Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The famiLEE feud: PM apologises for family feud

Allegations from my siblings 'mostly inaccurate': PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Jun 27) said the allegations that his siblings continue to make about him are "mostly inaccurate".

In response to media queries on the Facebook posts from his brother & sister, PM Lee said: "My siblings continue to make allegations about what I supposedly did or did not do. They are mostly inaccurate. As I earlier said, I will be making a statement in Parliament on Jul 3, 2017. I will at that time deal with the allegations that need to be addressed."

PM Lee & his siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, have been locked in a public spat over their late father Lee Kuan Yew's home at 38 Oxley Road.

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Lim Tean: PM Lee must sue for defamation to clear his name else President needs to convene an independent Commission of Inquiry

Adding to the chorus of voices denouncing the Prime Minister for choosing Parliament to defend himself, Lim Tean, a veteran lawyer and recent politician, has called for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to sue his two siblings for defamation over the allegations that they have been unleashing against him over the past two weeks. He also calls for the President to convene an independent commission of inquiry, should the PM refuse to raise the matter in the court.

Citing his experience as a practising lawyer in Singapore for 17 years, he highlights the point that in order to get at the truth, all the relevant parties, accusers and accused must be subject to cross-examination by counsel and all the evidence must be before the Commission and Parliamentary questions cannot take the place of cross-examination.

He wrote, "I see that for the Parliamentary session on 3 July , MPs have to file their questions in advance and we already know the questions which  the Worker’s Party MPs will ask. This might be alright for normal parliamentary sittings but not when the truth has to be discovered. It is like a student being given the exam papers days before the exam. There will also be limited time for follow-up questions on 3 July and none of the MPs except for maybe the Prime Minister himself will have the full facts before them to come to a proper decision."

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Tan Jee Say to Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of The Republic of Singapore

As President, you have the specific duty of safeguarding the integrity of the public service, and it is incumbent on you to get to the bottom of all this, to establish the facts and if true, hold those responsible fully accountable and put into place means and measures to ensure that no one can abuse his or her public position for private gain without the most severe punishment meted out to him or her.

As this is a matter of grave public concern, it is absolutely vital that you direct this inquiry to be conducted by way of open public hearings so as to ensure public confidence that nothing will be swept under the carpet and that every relevant detail will be examined.

This issue is of extreme urgency and the inquiry should be conducted soonest possible. As this matter takes place under your watch, you cannot simply pass the buck to the next President as you still have more than two months left of your presidential term of office. A period of two months is more than sufficient for this inquiry to be conducted and completed in good order as our public service is well-known for its efficiency.

Tan Jee Say: “Dear Prime Minister, please think of Country, Family, Colleagues, and resign now”
Former civil servant and Secretary-General of SingFirst, Tan Jee Say has written an open letter to the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, asking for his resignation. Citing five reasons why PM Lee should resign, Mr Tan made a plea to PM Lee to think of his country, family and colleagues and to step down as the Prime Minister

"Dear Prime Minister, please think of Country, Family, Colleagues, and resign now" - I know, along with many Singaporeans, that you must be feeling very troubled these two and a half weeks. But we also know that you are a man with a very strong will. As you told Singaporeans at a rally during the 2015 General Election, "Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him or give it up."

But giving up does not necessarily mean weakness in a person if it is done for noble reasons that are for the greater good of society. In view of what had happened between you and your siblings in the last few years that exploded in full public view only recently, I would like to make this plea to you, "Dear Prime Minister, please think of your Country, Family and Colleagues, and resign from the premiership now!" Here are my 5 reasons :
  • You have become a liability to the nation.
  • Your priorities are misplaced.
  • You had not been in the best of health.
  • Not being PM can be positive for your children.
  • Several of your ministerial colleagues have been dragged into the dispute.

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PSD polling public service officers on 38 Oxley Road dispute

The Public Service Division (PSD) on Tuesday (Jun 27) confirmed that it is polling public officers on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's dispute with his siblings over the late Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road, saying that the allegations went "beyond private matters".

The PSD, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office, said it was doing so to "understand their sentiments".

"On the issue of PM Lee Hsien Loong’s dispute with his siblings, the allegations made go beyond private matters & extend to the conduct & integrity of the Government & our public institutions," the PSD said in a response to Channel NewsAsia.

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I refer to the article “PSD polling public officers on Oxley Road spat as allegations involve integrity of public sector” (Straits Times, Jun 28).

It states that “The Public Service Division (PSD) is polling public officers about the ongoing spat between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings, as the accusations involve the integrity of the public sector. The PSD said in a statement on Tuesday (June 28) that “the allegations made go beyond private matters and extend to the conduct and integrity of the Government and our public institutions”.

Since we are talking about “the conduct and integrity of the Government and our public institutions” – can the PSD address the following questions:-
  • Who made the decision to conduct the poll?
  • Is the Prime Minister and the head of the civil service aware that the poll is being conducted?
  • What is the PSD’s understanding of “conflict of interest” since the PSD is in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)?
  • Will the results of the poll be made public?
  • To whom will the results of the poll be reported to?

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Statement by PM Lee Hsien Loong on 38 Oxley Road

Good evening. Over the last week, Singaporeans have been disturbed and confused by news of the private dispute between my siblings and me. I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the Government.

As your Prime Minister, I apologise to you for this. And as the eldest of the siblings, it grieves me to think of the anguish that this would have caused our parents if they were still alive.

I had done everything possible to avoid this state of affairs. My father left the property at 38 Oxley Road to me as part of my equal share of his estate, but my siblings were not happy about this. I tried to deal with their unhappiness privately. I offered to transfer 38 Oxley Rd to my sister for a nominal $1. Unfortunately that offer failed. I then sold the house to my brother at a fair market valuation, and donated all my proceeds to charity.

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Whoever is behind LHL’s video has done a top class job. Plain background, tired-looking LHL with little make-up, displaying a little exasperation/frustration, a hint dishevelled… Making LHL look like just an ordinary son trying to honour his parents.

Looks like the work of an American PR company. Top notch understanding of how social media works. Which is why LHY also needs to get on video and do the same.

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Andrew Loh 11 hrs

Whoever is behind LHL's video has done a top class job.

Plain background, tired-looking LHL with little make-up, displaying a little exasperation/frustration, a hint dishevelled... Making LHL look like just an ordinary son trying to honour his parents. Looks like the work of an American PR company. Top notch understanding of how social media works.

Which is why LHY also needs to get on video and do the same.

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PM Lee Hsien Loong’s video apology lauded by PR professionals


But what is clear is that the PM has separated the personal and professional side

“He is now moving the discussion forward and trying to make it as transparent as possible,” Deo added. Echoing Deo’s sentiment is Wesley Gunter, PR director at Right Hook Communications. He said:
"I think the move is a positive step forward in clearing the air, so people can hear his side of the story."
He added that this move, however, may also open up another can of worms, “depending on how people interpret the response given, which may end up with more back and forth between the PM and his siblings”.

related: The Lee family feud: Will it impact Singapore’s pristine image?

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Lee Hsien Loong 13 hrs

Kirsten Han Since openness and transparency is being highlighted here, does this mean that there will be a live feed for the 3 July Parliament session? A livestream of Parliament – which belongs to the people – is a pretty basic exercise of openness and transparency.
41 · 12 hrs

Victor Quah Frankly, what's the issue with demolishing and fulfilling what was stated and expressed very clearly by the deceased? What's the value of preserving the place? Look no further than Sun Yat Sen villa if heritage is the answer/reason. If Rocher roads flats can make way for the country then 38Oxley Road is no exception. Now it gets an airing in Parliament. Very confusing; is this now a national or private issue? The Law Minister stated the populace are "sick and tired of these baseless accusations". Then why devote Parlimentary time and attention to it? The main thing is; why are we denying what was essentially one of the founding Father of this island his last and final wish?
9 · 12 hrs

Baldev Singh No ministers will dare question you. That is a fact. Nothing further needs to be said. Lets stop pretending. All questions will be pre planned and vetted etc. This is a family dispute do not bring in your ministers to back you up
2 · 7 hrs · Edited

Adrian Soh I'm neutral, if I were to listened to your siblings sides I'm going to be neutral as well. But you three failed in my opinion, as all are leadership materials how can it get blown out of proportion like now. I refused to be taken in that $1 and market value purchase alone would lead to this. Only you three sir knows the bitterness about what's happening. My parents taught me in Chinese that there is no overnight feud between blood, pm Lee and your siblings failed to resolve this as non of you gave in, it's not just like what you said cuz that alone can't justify for what they accused you of. You should have spoken to them with a giving heart. That's more than enough for brothers and sisters to look beyond. What is money, listen to Steve jobs last words, wisdom.
2 · 7 hrs

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Channel NewsAsia 15 hrs

Lee Soh Geok Why apologise to the people? Shouldn't you be apologising to your siblings first for causing them to resort to this? Did you reflect what had you done to result in many Singaporeans buying their story? You should give the credit to the way you and your team rammed through the reserved EP and got your followers to blatantly ignore basic facts like the identity of our first EP, mind you they aren't uneducated like our ancestors but university graduates even! Frankly I don't doubt your ability to pull off the 3rd July parliamentary session the way you did the NDP rally. The voters are unfit to be the judges. Only your dad is qualified but he's not no longer available to deal with you. He has no choice but to be qualified as part of the silent majority.... Every commenter should answer a question before he comments on this issue... who was Spore's first EP?
23 · 10 hrs · Edited

Attap Chee Mr PM Lee, are you willing to open parliament and openly let your 2 siblings, any prominent opposition party member (whether elected to parliament or not), and any Singaporean wishing to attend and broadcast a complete Q&A session live? Are you willing to offer this??
34 · 13 hrs

Tay Chin Peng Since this is now a Singapore issue, I believe everyone should have access to the Q&A session LIVE. CNA I'm sure you can make it happen. But of cause only if PAP allows u to. Streaming the session LIVE is the only way Singaporeans and media overseas can trust that what is said is not edited for intended viewing purposes only. I'm not going to side anyone on this issue here. But to aid PM Lee and to support his claims, he should LIVE stream this so that no one can put words into his mouth. And we can hear the unedited truth.
3 · 9 hrs

Justin Koh I scratches my head how this matter (preserve or tear down the house) can turn into serious allegations and an issue of national significance??? ..... Let's not be so quick to put the blame on LHY/LWL, they are duty bound as executors of our founding father LKY's will to see to the execution of his wishes. ..... Having heard that the house was actually given PM Lee as his share, I am curious as to what was his thinking because this could put PM in a fix ....... This aside, I think we need more details about the ongoing discussions between PM and his siblings to be able to form a better picture of the incident ........ like why was the $1 dollar offered not accepted by his siblings? were there conditions attached? ..... how did it then come to the purchase of the house by LHY at market value? were there conditions attached? ...... were there other options/possibilities being discussed (as PM said he tried everything possible)? and if so, what are some of those options/possibilities? ...... when was the Ministerial Committee (MC) formed? how was it formed? what it set out to achieve? what's the reasons for not announcing its formation to the public? .... I understand our government need to have flexibility to go about its activities and many committees are formed from time to time. Except that this concerns our founding father, I personally thought it could be good to keep her citizens informed like announcing a memorial site would be made for our old guards, though there was no MC for this ........ Why LHY/LWL chose public? from the wordings that they used, one would sense an element of feeling betrayal. the answers to the questions before would probably shed lights ..... As PM said, we as citizens do hope our MPs in the parliament would be asking these questions among others that they could think of to clear the air surrounding the matter which has unfortunately gone from a family matter to one of national significance.
3 · 11 hrs

Ahmad Bilal I think a lot of people are missing the point. The issue's not so much about the fate of the house. The bigger picture lhy and lwl wants us to see is on the issue of integrity. If integrity issues can tear a family apart, could it do the same to a country? Which is why i think they decided to get the whole of Singapore involved in this discussion, because it does concern us. Question is, are we ready to have such a tough conversation and if need be, accept some hard truths? Nope.
1 · 2 hrs

Veronica Tay Some have asked for all the siblings to be present. Wonder the true intention of these people? As though the current family situation is not bad enough. Man with compassionate heart ... would certainly wish them to minimise conflict as much as possible and have a good closure.
1 · 11 hrs

Justin Koh any question come to mind, there was an allegation about Mr Luicen Wong as AG. Perhaps the following questions should be asked during parliament .... who were the other candidates that the government was considering to be the next AG? what were the criteria? who were on the selection committee assuming one was formed? how they arrive at the conclusion that Mr Wong is the most ideal candidate?
2 · 8 hrs

Theresa Tang Chui Ling I see the anguished sad eyes in this speech.. thou it takes a confident man to deliver speeches it takes another responsible ego man to stand up for this. What happen to the LWL book i read about the memories of the family ?? It turned overnight for some hidden angst ?? where is the ndp spirit i always kinda tear when i sing Home ? Isn't gona be ruined by spices and balachan flavor or others who have never seen eye to eye with whatever our government had/ been doin and acknowledge the improvements of our home. I mean i also saw people abused their authority just becos they know so and so or hmm perhaps bullied foreigners just becos they aren't educated. He got ask us to die die must contribute to charity when we earn well not.. it's actually up to us right? Then the Kong hee case also abused his position but the $ goes to his wife if you think this one abuse his power than i am not blind to see he did many other great stuff too. We cannot have perfect humans let alone perfect government just count our blessings and if someone is willing to stand strong and firm to apologize irregardless how you wana throw eggs or curse him, then i think we should have a bigger mind and heart to leave it to them and not always think negatives . If u wana talk about history than find some veterans or debate centers to hold a proper one if you can't accept the fact that you still live in a blessed country than as a citizen i also don't know how to let you appreciate at least abit of what you have gained in our country. Peace.
1 · 9 hrs · Edited

Graham LockMy dear PM, Can we at the same time invite LHY and Dr LWL to join this ministerial conference so that we can end this private yet disgraceful affair altogether?
8 hrs

Vince Goh You have decided to allow your party's whip to be lifted up just to debate an old house. Big matters like the white paper did not have such privileges.
13 · 12 hrs

Ong Yu Shan Would like to share this parliament speech by LHL about oxley house. Must read it and tell everyone who is the one flip flopping!
Singapore Parliament Reports
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8 hrs

Roger Low Party whip "lifted" just for this session? Who dares to question critically? Those who dares, will be marked and once the whip is in place, they will whip you for it. Best is to have more people in parliament not related to MIW to prevent future allegations of power misuse and form a team of people not under the pap umbrella to look into the current allegations to satisfy people. No matter how good your team is to look into the allegations, remember that it is YOUR team. Conflict of interest. So people will never be satisfied and align themselves to your findings.
31 mins

Jemma Ong great to see such a move. Now let's hope that there will be perfect attendance of ALL ministers and MP at this parliamentary hearing considering how the saga has damaged our reputation as Singapore. Also, this should not just stopped at parliamentary hearing but instead to our judiciary courts as it is as we have learnt in social studies, the most independent branch of governance.
13 hrs

Zikri Ali "If you make a defamatory allegation that the Prime Minister is guilty of criminal misappropriation of pension funds of Singaporeans, that's a very serious matter. If it's true, the Prime Minister should be charged and jailed. If it's not true, the matter must be clarified and the best way to do that is by settling in Court. If it's untrue, it will be shown so. If it's true, the Prime Minster will be destroyed."
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/.../we-welcome-criticism...
That's was what LHL said previously and now serious allegations are being made against him by his siblings but he is making a refutation in parliament instead. Why is he so reluctant to bring them to court if he has not done anything wrong? Please be consistent with your words and actions.
We welcome criticism within constraints, says Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong
Mr Lee was asked about the cases of Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng - the former found guilty of… CHANNELNEWSASIA.COM
4 · 13 hrs

Jai Shankar Kuppusamy Why not he discuss with his siblings in parliament so we get a clear picture No use asking Apologise I cannot go and Apologise to my boss if work is not done. Next day I be out of job. PM if cannot run the country step down and let people who can it do not matter about race who ever can be our next Pm.
1 hr

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Barraged by allegations, Lee vows transparency

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his son Li Hongyi. Hongyi is now deputy director of the Government Digital Services Data Science Division of the Goverment Technology Agency of Singapore, a statutory board under the Prime Minister's office.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his son Li Hongyi. Photo: AFP Forum

Although Lee Hsien Loong framed the parliamentary session as an open method of providing Singaporeans with an honest accounting of the situation, Ortmann believes that it will more likely be an exercise in damage control for the long-ruling PAP.

“In Singapore, the PAP has created an image of near infallibility which is used as an argument why you should vote for it and not another party. If the prime minister is viewed as negatively, it hurts the party,” Ortmann said.

“I believe the MPs will ask questions that are favorable to the [Prime Minister] and suggest that he has done all he could do. Also, I believe it will suggest that this is primarily a family affair that got out of hand and now will be resolved clearly. Any questions related to governance will be dealt with as they usually do: with clear denials.”

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PM Lee caught between a rock and a hard place
What would Lee Kuan Yew have done?

Lee Kuan Yew would never have let an accusation of nepotism or abuse of power for personal gain go unanswered. He would sue the pants whoever dared make any of those allegations. Former Senior Minister Prof S. Jayakumar once explained Lee Kuan Yew’s practice of defamation suits like this:
“He (Lee Kuan Yew) is prepared for a robust criticism of his policies. He can be criticised for foolishness, maybe even for incompetence, for arrogance, but his red line was — not on reputation and integrity. So whether it’s opposition politician or any other source, if you allege his integrity, say corruption for example, he would want to demonstrate that that is a red line … He’s prepared to justify his record… (he wanted) establish a threshold here that you have people of integrity, including himself, in government, in Cabinet and they are prepared to defend the integrity.”
Indeed, PM Lee is no stranger to initiating defamation suits. Take Roy Ngerng for example. Roy Ngerng wasn’t someone who was particularly influential nor were the things he wrote widely read. And even those who read his stuff take it with enough salt to give you instant kidney failure. Yet, PM Lee though it necessary to sue Roy Ngerng. Why? Because if PM hadn’t done so, then there is a possibility that some foreign institutions (e.g. governments, MNCs) may actually believe that there is a nugget, however small, of truth in what Roy Ngerng had said.

And now, we have two of Lee Kuan Yew’s children accusing his eldest child, who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Singapore, of nepotism and abusing power for personal gain. PM Lee’s siblings are far more influential than Roy Ngerng. Surely their allegations must be met with an equally, if not more, robust response than Roy Ngerng’s. Surely, if we applied the same principle that Lee Kuan Yew held in similar instances, PM Lee needs to act decisively to publicly prove that those allegations are baseless.

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Singapore PM apologizes for family feud but denies siblings' allegations
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore arrives at G20 Summit in Hangzhou last year.
Singapore's Prime Minister has made a rare public apology for a family spat that has gripped a city unused to elites airing their grievances

Lee Hsien Loong refuted allegations that he has violated the will of his late father, Singapore's former leader Lee Kuan Yew, for his own political gain.

"I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore's reputation and Singaporean's confidence in the government. As your Prime Minister, I apologize to you for this," Lee said in a video statement posted to Facebook that also aired on national TV.

The high esteem in which most Singaporeans hold their former leader and the city-state's strict censorship laws have made the public spat something of a political soap opera for the Singapore's 5.5 million people. The extent of any political fallout is still unclear.

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Singapore's PM opens himself up to debate amid abuse of power claims
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong greets guests during an official visit to the White House on August 2, 2016.

In a fiery statement last Wednesday, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang — the PM's younger sister and brother, respectively — claimed their elder brother was exploiting the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father and parent to all three siblings, for political gain. Hsien Yang also announced he would be leaving the country, citing the PM as the sole reason.

The family dispute has affected Singapore's reputation and citizens' confidence in government, the PM declared on Monday.

Given the gravity of the situation, analysts weren't surprised by the decision to deal with the matter in parliament.

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Will a parliamentary hearing make Singapore PM's problems go away?

The parliamentary meeting on July 3 will be an opportunity for Lee to clear his name, but in doing so he will have no choice to throw light on a number of issues that have unsettled many Singaporeans, including:
  • Was there a conspiracy to get Lee Kuan Yew to reinstate the clause to demolish the house?
  • Why was a ministerial committee appointed to look into options for the property with Lee's siblings and the public being kept out of the loop?
  • Was there any conflict of interest in the appointing of Lee's lawyer in the property, 63-year-old Lucien Wong, to replace 60-year-old V K Rajah as attorney general?
The edifice Lee Kuan Yew built and nurtured is crumbling. It is the responsibility of the prime minister to make sure it remains intact.

It remains to be seen whether MPs will ask the tough questions necessary to elicit hard truths from the prime minister, and what his siblings' next moves will be.

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Singapore PM's Family Feud Reveals Rise of the 'First Lady'

On April 15, 2010, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was interviewed by Charlie Rose on American national television and declared without reservation that if anyone suggested that Singapore has a dynastic government – if there was any hint of nepotism – then he would sue them.

That was then. Seven years and two months later, on June 14, 2017, his own brother and sister (Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling) accused him of exactly that. He has not sued them, but his brother has said he will flee the country in fear of unspecified repercussions from his conflict with his brother. They accuse him not only of having dynastic ambitions for his son, Li Hongyi, but also of abusing his power as prime minister in his effort to "advance his personal agenda" and of cowering the local press into timid silence.

The tipping point of the dispute is the last will and testament of the family patriarch, Lee Kuan Yew, who died on 23 March 2015. The specific point of dispute is disposal of the family home: Lee Kuan Yew wanted it bulldozed; Lee Hsien Loong wants it preserved and heritage listed. More to the point, he is accused of using the power of Cabinet and his Attorney-General (formerly his personal solicitor) to make it so. (Last week Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong confirmed Cabinet had set up an internal ministerial committee to consider the options for the house but PM Lee had not been involved in the committee's discussions.) The PM's younger siblings have enlisted the power of Facebook and the foreign media (bypassing the Singapore press) to stop him.

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Singapore has no such thing as the wife of the prime minister being a ‘first lady’. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990. During those many years, his wife (our mother) consistently avoided the limelight, remaining his stalwart supporter and advisor in private.

She lived discreetly, and set a high bar for the conduct of a prime minister’s wife. She would never instruct Permanent Secretaries or senior civil servants.

The contrast between her and Ho Ching could not be more stark. While Ho Ching holds no elected or official position in government, her influence is pervasive, and extends well beyond her job purview.

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Singapore PM says sorry for family feud
This handout from Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information taken and released on June 19, 2017 shows Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong making his statement
A cabinet committee is considering what should happen to the property but the prime minister says he is not involved in any decisions about the house

"Much as I would like to move on, and end a most unhappy experience for Singaporeans, these baseless accusations against the government cannot be left unanswered," the premier said. He said he would address all questions on the matter when parliament sits again on July 3.

Lee Kuan Yew died at the age of 91 in March 2015, triggering an outpouring of grief across the city-state which he transformed into one of the world's richest societies while muzzling the media and quelling dissent. Political opponents and dissidents have been hit with financially ruinous defamation lawsuits.

The family row, played out on social media, has riveted the nation of 5.6 million, whose citizens are unused to open disagreement among the political elite.

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Singapore Premier Lee Will Address Family Feud in July 3 Speech

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologized after a family dispute with his two siblings over their late father’s estate spilled back into the public sphere, pledging to address parliament next month on the matter.

“I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the government,” Lee, 65, said late Monday in a statement. “As your Prime Minister, I apologize to you for this.”

Lee said he will in his speech to parliament on July 3 refute the charges leveled against him by his brother, Lee Hsien Yang, and sister, Lee Wei Ling. The two issued a joint six-page letter on Facebook last week saying they had “lost confidence” in their brother and no longer trusted him.

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Singapore PM apologies for harm caused by family feud over house
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologized on Monday that a dispute with his siblings over their late father Lee Kuan Yew's will has had an impact on citizens' confidence in the government

The prime minister assured citizens that the dispute "will not distract me and my cabinet colleagues from our responsibility to govern Singapore, and to deal with more important national issues, including the pressing economic and security challenges we face".

Lee Hsien Yang, who said he and his wife would be leaving Singapore because they felt closely monitored and threatened, has no immediate comment. Lee Wei Ling could not be immediately reached for comment.

In his last will, part of which was released by Lee Hsien Yang on Thursday, Lee Kuan Yew, who ruled Singapore for three decades, said he wanted his house, a humbly furnished home near the bustling Orchard shopping district, to be demolished.

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Singapore prime minister apologises for siblings’ dispute

The family dispute, which has simmered since their father’s death in March 2015, burst into the open last week, when his two younger siblings posted a joint statement on Facebook attacking their brother, who was on holiday at the time.

Another of the siblings’ accusation is that their elder brother harbours political ambitions for his son, Li Hongyi, who many now believe is being groomed to ensure a third generation of Lee family leadership. The prime minister’s office, when asked about the succession issue, referred back to statements made in 2014 denying any plans for his children to go into politics.

In Monday’s statement the prime minister also promised a parliamentary debate over the allegations by his brother and sister, for which the party whip would be lifted — a rarity in a chamber dominated by the ruling People’s Action Party since independence in 1965. “I hope that this full, public airing in parliament will dispel any doubts that have been planted and strengthen confidence in our institutions and our system of government,” he said.

Feud in Singapore’s first family raises questions of dynastic ambition
Singapore frets over worsening Lee family feud
A feud that threatens Singapore’s governing creed

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Singapore PM says sorry for family feud

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologised to Singaporeans today for a bitter family feud over his late father’s legacy, saying it had damaged the country’s reputation.

Lee and two younger children of revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew have been attacking each other on Facebook and international media for days as a dispute over the patriarch’s estate became public, a spectacle that has shocked Singaporeans.

“I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the government,” Lee said in a statement he read in a pre-taped video aired by national broadcaster Mediacorp. “As your Prime Minister, I apologise to you for this.

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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday apologised to citizens for the embarrassment the bitter public feud between him and his siblings had brought to the city state, and vowed to refute their allegations that he abused his executive power.

The premier – whose People’s Action Party (PAP) has for decades held a parliamentary supermajority – said he would grant government MPs a free vote when he gives the issue a full airing in the legislature on July 3. Such a move is rare in Singapore. The PAP, in power since 1959, was co-founded by the three siblings’ father Lee Kuan Yew, who is credited with shaping the tiny nation into one of the world’s wealthiest and stable places within a single generation.

The three are the children of the Lion City’s revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew. The patriarch died in March 2015 after a near five decade political career, which he held the premiership for 31 years. The two younger siblings Lee Hsien Yang, 59, and Lee Wei Ling, 62, allege that the premier abused his powers to prevent them from demolishing the family home – one of the patriarch’s final wishes he included in his final will.

related: Lee Kuan Yew's squabbling children are tarnishing his legacy

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Siblings never objected to PM Lee receiving equal share of estate: Lee Hsien Yang

The objections were to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's "flip-flopping about Lee Kuan Yew's demolition wish", his brother said in a Facebook post

The siblings of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong never had any objection to the latter receiving an equal share of their father's estate, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said on Tuesday (Jun 20).

Mr Lee's latest Facebook post comes a day after PM Lee issued a statement on the ongoing family dispute over the house of their late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at 38 Oxley Road.

In the statement, PM Lee had said: "My father left the property at 38 Oxley Road to me as part of my equal share of his estate, but my siblings were not happy about this."

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Siblings were unhappy that Lee Kuan Yew left Oxley house to eldest son, PM Lee

The Prime Minister has taken to Facebook to apologise to Singaporeans over the Oxley-squabble. He acknowledged that the dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the Government.

He said that Mr Lee Kuan Yew left the property at 38 Oxley Road to him as part of his equal share of his estate, but his siblings were not happy about this. He said that he failed in his attempts to deal with their unhappiness privately.

In describing his siblings accusations against him as “baseless”, he promised to address them in a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on 3 July. He said the party-Whip will be lifted and all Members of Parliament will be urged to vigorously question him and his Cabinet on the issue.

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Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong is on the back foot

Why is parliament being dragged into this? This is a fight to be settled in a court of law or during an open inquiry, said former ruling People's Action Party (PAP) MP Tan Cheng Bock, who is challenging the government on the holding of presidential elections in September.

Will MPs stand up for Singapore and ask their boss difficult and probing questions? Rigorous questioning of power is not in the Singaporean psyche in parliament or out. With a lopsided chamber packed with government lawmakers and just a tiny sprinkling of opposition members, who are often shouted down by their PAP colleagues, a decisive debate is unlikely.

What's the point when the chief accusers won't be taking part? Both Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling won't be in parliament to answer questions or respond to points being made. The siblings' strategy so far has been to post revelations and accusations on social media from overseas. It looks like they are still holding some cards close to their chest to be revealed later in order to keep the pot boiling.

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Perhaps the most startling and truly new development is the emergence of the importance of Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching

We already knew she was powerful as the CEO and director of Temasek Holdings, which is the holding company for the massive network of government-linked companies that dominate the Singapore economy. From the glimpse of the inside-family politics this episode has provided, it is now clear that she has power far beyond this role. There are 12 separate mentions of Ho Ching as a player in the public statement released by Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling a week ago but the critical one is here. We still have no substantive basis to judge how far her power extends either in government per se or over her husband, but from now on, people will assume her power is ubiquitous.

The second significant revelation is the first airing by anyone in the ruling elite of the political ambitions of Li Hongyi, Lee Hsien Loong’s and Ho Ching’s son. His ambition had been well known for many years, and it was fairly obvious to anyone who followed the Lee family closely that he had been busy building a CV that would provide him entry to politics, but barely a whisper of this had been translated into print. Certainly, no journalist had gone near the story and even foreign academics like myself have been circumspect. Li Hongyi has denied any such ambition (well he would, wouldn’t he?) but now the story is out, and it is out in a way that cannot do anything but hurt his ambitions.

The third major consequence is the continued degradation of the Lee Hsien Loong brand and, by consequence, the Lee family brand. Lee Hsien Loong has never been as revered as his father and the events of the last week are likely to have further damaged him. It would be different if his period as prime minister had been a litany of successes and achievements, but it has been far from a success. During the 13 years that Lee Hsien Loong has been prime minister, government in Singapore has been unambiguously ordinary. There have been large anti-government rallies, the worse election result for the government since independence, and a series of spectacular administrative failures. He famously saved the 2011 General Elections for the government by apologizing for all the things the government had done wrong. This is definitely not the way to enhance a brand nor the way to build a dynasty. It is not even a good way to run a country.

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The bitter family feud over the estate of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew will affect Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s credibility at home, but is unlikely to cast a shadow over his dealings with China, mainland observers and state media said on Tuesday.

 Citing Confucian beliefs, experts questioned the incumbent leader’s ability to manage a nation when, as the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, he appears unable to settle his family dispute. Leaders urge Lee Kuan Yew’s children to end public bickering as more accusations fly Ju Hailong, a Southeast Asian affairs expert from Jinan University, said the saga might well hamper Lee’s political ambitions.

“This will definitely affect his political base, as ethnic Chinese hold the value that if a person cannot handle his family well then he loses the ability to run a country,” he said.

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Zul Al Yusouf · Co-founder at Soleil Pâtissiére

If all the allegations are wrong, please sue them in court. Bringing the case, as the PM has mentioned as private affair, to parliament is wrong. Bringing in the other ministers to allow them making remarks is another wrong thing to do. They should be remain neutral as this is none of their concerns, it's between the siblings. I say enough of this drama. Just settle it in court. There are better things to worry such as minimum wages, our cpf, our HDB homes where we are co-tenant but we pay property tax while we are not owners, etc. The country has other issues than this house.

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Singapore Lee Family Feud Goes Public on Facebook: QuickTake Q&A
The house at 38 Oxley Road, the residence of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.Photographer:Wallace Woon/EPA

Singapore is a small but wealthy Southeast Asian island state with a reputation for order and control. So imagine the dismay when its most famous family gets involved in a very public feud -- on Facebook. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two younger siblings are embroiled in a spat that centers on the fate of the house that belonged to their late father, the country’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. It marks a rare public display of acrimony from a family that’s been at the forefront of Singapore’s establishment since its independence in 1965 -- a family that largely kept private any discord before the elder Lee’s death in 2015:
  • What’s the spat about?
  • Who are the protagonists?
  • What about keeping disputes in the family?
  • What does PM Lee say?
  • What’s the significance of the house?
  • What do we know about the committee?
  • Is anyone else involved?
  • What impact has the spat had on Singapore politics?
  • What about markets?
  • Could the environment change?
  • What about Singapore’s image?
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Singaporeans weary of prime minister's family spat
Singaporean founding father Lee Kuan Yew, center, celebrates his 80th birthday in 2003. His children have become embroiled in a feud following his death in 2015. © Reuters

The siblings have continued to trade blows via Facebook, with no sign of a truce coming anytime soon. Many Singaporeans, unaware of what caused such distrust among the family in the first place, have started showing signs of weariness with the ongoing drama.

"Parliament is not a forum for siblings' disputes," an internet user believed to be Singaporean said in a comment on a local news website. Concerns have grown that the saga will drag on despite more pressing issues, such as the economy and the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia. Han Fook Kwang, editor-at-large of the influential newspaper The Straits Times, said, "The family feud among the Lees is extremely damaging to Singapore."

The row has invited criticism from overseas, too. "The dispute between [the prime minister] and his siblings might challenge the stability of the country and bring pressure for political reform," wrote the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party's English-language newspaper.

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The Lees of Singapore

It is no secret that a dynasty has emerged as the ruling force in Singapore. The Lee family (of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) is referred to as ‘the first family’ as a matter of routine in private conversation, though not usually in public. Power has already passed from father to son and now there is a generation of high-flying grandsons in the wings.

This article traces the establishment and consolidation of the Lee dynasty from the point in the early 1980s when Lee Kuan Yew emerged as the centre of all the significant power networks in Singapore, through to the consolidation of power in the hands of his son, Lee Hsien Loong, in 2011. In the process of doing this, it argues that despite official rhetoric that says that the country runs on the talent of the best and most talented men and women in the country, and the closely related myth that professionalism provides the basis of governance, the reality is that of rule by a family-based clique of confidantes and relatives.

There is a strong element of reality to both myths, but both elements are ultimately subordinated to and in the service of the forces of consanguineous and personal networks.

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Financial Times most read letter: the Lee’s banana republic?

In a letter, the most read Friday 23rd in the Financial Times, one Frankie Leung from Los Angeles, CA, USA said the Lee family’s feud could not happen in Singapore as it sounded like a ‘banana republic’ saga.

“When the story broke that the prime minister’s younger brother and his wife had to flee the country to avoid political persecution, we thought it could only happen in a banana republic and not the Republic of Singapore,” the letter said.

He also wrote that When the Old Man (as Singapore’s late premier Lee Kuan Yew was fondly called) talked so eloquently about Asian values and propounded his interpretation of a brand of Confucianism, I had to bite my lip to stop laughing.

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LKY poked his nose into the business of others

Some Singaporeans posted responses to the prime minister’s statement on Facebook, urging him to sue his siblings for libel. Lee Hsien Yang says he is ready to face a lawsuit. He says the purpose of his statement was to make it harder to thwart his father’s wishes. But Lee Hsien Loong says it is his siblings’ airing of the family dispute that “has hurt our father’s legacy”.

In my view, what the dispute really hurts is his father’s sanctimony. He does not look holier than other people now. LKY poked his nose into the business of others, and tried to tell them what to do. He made it official policy for Singapore to sue opposition politicians and journalists who criticized him and his government with expensive lawsuits in his homecourt, in order to drive them to bankruptcy or to submission.

If Lee Hsien Loong sues his siblings to accomplish the same objective, he will drive Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy to disrepute and ridicule.

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Lee Hsien Loong 4 December 2015

My siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, and I have issued the following joint statement:
  • "To honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to the charities named in the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's obituary notice.
  • Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang would like to honour the wish of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished after Dr Lee Wei Ling ceases to live in it.
  • Mr Lee Hsien Loong has recused himself from all government decisions involving 38 Oxley Road and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.
  • Speaking as the children of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang hope the government will allow the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wish for the demolition of the house to be honoured and that all Singaporeans will support their cause." 

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Half the value of Oxley Road house to be donated to charity

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said on Facebook that he and his two other siblings Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling would like to respect their father’s final wishes to demolish the Oxley Rd house.

Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, passed away on 23 March this year. The outpouring of grief by the young and old alike in Singapore was followed by calls to preserve the Oxley Road house which he lived in.

However, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was always adamant about having the house demolished after his passing and should his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lived in it. Mr Lee Kuan Yew wrote this in his will:
"I further declare that it is my wish, and the wish of my late wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 (‘the House’) be demolished immediately after my death or, if my daughter, Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out. If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the law, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants. My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private."
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Lee Kuan Yew’s family to donate the value of Oxley Rd house to charity
PM Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Lee Hsien Yang & Dr Lee Wei Ling reiterate their request that Singaporeans respect the wishes of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in March

"To honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong & Mr Lee Hsien Yang have each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to the charities named in the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's obituary notice," wrote PM Lee. "Dr Lee Wei Ling & Mr Lee Hsien Yang would like to honour the wish of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished after Dr Lee Wei Ling ceases to live in it.

"Mr Lee Hsien Loong has recused himself from all government decisions involving 38 Oxley Road and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured."

"Speaking as the children of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Lee Wei Ling & Mr Lee Hsien Yang hope the government will allow the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wish for the demolition of the house to be honoured & that all Singaporeans will support their cause."

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Lee Kuan Yew turning in his grave

A Filipino columnist for the Manila Times wrote that Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), the redoubtable Singaporean leader who had a penchant to hector other leaders and lecture the West about Asian values, must be turning in his grave.

He said while his – that is LKY – country is still up in the charts for sheer performance, the family he has left behind is being torn apart by a family feud. “His political dynasty may not be as cohesive or admirable as everyone supposed. “In my view, what the dispute really hurts is his father’s sanctimony. He does not look holier than other people now,” he wrote.

He said LKY poked his nose into the business of others, and tried to tell them what to do.

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Full Coverage:
I will speak in Parliament on the matter of 38 Oxley Road on 3 July
PM Lee apologises to Sporeans over dispute with siblings
'Baseless accusations' against Govt must be dealt with openly: PM Lee
Oxley Rd dispute:House debate will clear the air, say MPs,political watchers
PM Lee apologises for damage to Singapore caused by family dispute
PM Lee lifts party whip for parliamentary session on allegations
PM Lee apologises, to refute charges in Parliament on July 3
Singapore PM says sorry for family feud
Resolve Oxley Rd spat quickly for S'pore's sake
Keep fight over Oxley Rd house private
PM Lee apologises to Singaporeans over dispute with siblings
Singapore prime minister apologises for siblings' dispute
Singapore PM apologies for harm caused by family feud over house
Feud is tearing apart Singapore's first family
Singapore Premier Lee Will Address Family Feud in July 3 Speech
Singapore's leader apologizes to public for family dispute
Singaporean PM apologizes for harm caused by dispute with siblings
PM Lee apologises to Singaporeans for Oxley Road dispute
5 observations from PM Lee's rare 3 min 40 sec public apology
Chinese state media, netizens seize on Lee family dispute to criticise Spore
Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong sorry for the family squabble
Siblings of Singapore PM Lee say they fear for their safety
Singapore PM Lee  apologises for family feud and vows to refute siblings'
Lee Kuan Yew's squabbling children are tarnishing his legacy
Lee Hsien Yang: Rule of law was respected under Lee Kuan Yew
'Baseless accusations' against Govt must be dealt with openly: PM Lee
Singapore PM apologizes over row with siblings
PM Lee apologises for family feud affecting Singaporeans' confidence in Gov
“Deed of Gift”: LHY's latest post means in the context of the Lee family saga
Mrs Lee Suet Fern leaves managing partner role in her law firm's S'pore office
Morgan Lewis Singapore chief steps down after involvement in PM
Everything you need to know about PM Lee's video statement on conflict
Singapore's first family at war, causing national embarrassment
The flawed agenda of the Oxley House Ministerial Committee
6 reasons why the wishes in your will might not be followed
Ho Ching’s 8-Facebook-post guide to Twitter
Ho Ching Apologises for Doing What Every Wife Ought to Do: Stand By Your Man
Ho Ching's 'it's a twitter malfunction' excuse for posting the monkey picture
Singapore PM’s wife apologizes over ‘middle finger’ Twitter posting
Ho Ching apologises for posting photo that could have been 'misunderstood'
Singapore PM parries sister’s claims of dynastic ambitions

The famiLEE tree
The famiLEE feud: PM Lee "I'm not sure that it is solved"
The famiLEE feud: AGC looking into FB post by Lee Hsien Yang's son
The famiLEE feud: Protest at Hong Lim Park
The famiLEE feud: Demolish the house, end the saga, let's move on
The famiLEE feud: LWL, LHY to stop presenting online evidence
The famiLEE feud: Lee Hsien Yang responds to Parliament Hearing
The famiLEE feud: Parliamentary Hearing on Oxley's Dispute
The famiLEE feud: PM Lee Hsien Loong's Ministerial Statement
The famiLEE feud: Why LHY is speaking up
The famiLEE feud: July 3 Parliament session a cover-up & whitewash?
The famiLEE feud: Not another minister on the Will again!
The famiLEE feud: Lee Hsien Yang & his wife in Hong Kong
The famiLEE feud: Rise of the 'First Lady'
The famiLEE feud: Govt 'Poking Nose' into Oxley's fate
The famiLEE feud: Will House Debate clear the air?
The famiLEE feud: PM apologises for family feud
The famiLEE feud: Singaporeans sick and tired of endless Oxley Rd allegations
The famiLEE feud: "Past three days"
The famiLEE feud: "Will of Wills"
Social Media on the Late LKY’s children Online Squabble
Online squabble about "Hero-Worship" of the late Lee Kuan Yew
Family feud over how to mark LKY's death spills out online
New Law to Protect Lee Kuan Yew's Name and Image
Govt rebuts Lawyer's comments on QFLP scheme
Li Hongyi & Li Shengwu: 2 latest Internet sensation from the Lee family
Remembering Lee Kuan Yew 2016
LKY Passing: Good Intentions Gone Wrong
PM broke down in Parliament talking about his Dad
A State Funeral Service held for Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Former PM Lee Kuan Yew in the limelight
Lee Kuan Yew passes away on 23 Mar 2015
Lee Kuan Yew – The Man and his Legacy
Lee Kuan Yew in ICU with severe pneumonia
The Battle For Merger
Happy 91st Birthday Lee Kuan Yew from Singapore!
Singapore's Founding Father Hospitalised
Lee Kuan Yew turns 90
Lee Kuan Yew hospitalised: Suspected Transient Ischaemic Attack
Lee & Lee - The job has changed
"One World's View Of The Man"
Lee Kuan Yew on death: I want mine quickly, painlessly
A Post-LKY Singapore?