The brother of Singapore’s prime minister today accused him of lying in parliament about the final wishes of their father, revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, the latest instalment of an explosive family feud.
Lee Hsien Yang accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 65, of falsely telling parliament Monday that their father had been open to reconsidering plans to demolish a century-old family bungalow.
The house is at the centre of a political drama that has simmered since the 2015 death of the elder Lee, and which has played out in public with the PM and his siblings exchanging barbs on social media, shocking a tightly controlled nation unused to divisions among the elite.
The patriarch had wanted the bungalow destroyed after he passed away to prevent the creation of a personality cult.
But the prime minister’s siblings say their brother is attempting to block the house’s demolition to capitalise on their father’s legacy for his own political agenda, including grooming his own son as a future leader.
“(Lee Hsien Loong) has made convoluted, but ultimately false, claims about Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes,” the 60-year-old said in a Facebook post Tuesday, which was shared by his sister Wei Ling, 62.
The dispute burst into the open last month when the PM’s brother and sister launched attacks on Facebook, which quickly went viral.
In Monday’s speech, the PM said that despite a “demolition clause” governing the house in his final will, his father was “prepared to consider alternatives”, and had even approved renovation plans should the government decide against tearing down the building.
However Hsien Yang said that his father had been misled by the prime minister into agreeing to the renovation, with the elder Lee made to believe the house had been listed as a national monument so could not be torn down — a claim of which the founding leader’s lawyer had found no evidence.
Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s authoritarian first prime minister, ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990.
His death at age 91 sparked a massive outpouring of grief among Singaporeans, many of whom credit the family patriarch with turning Singapore from a poor former British colony into one of the world’s wealthiest and most stable societies.
The debate in parliament continued for a second day on Tuesday.