(Reporting by Yong Ping Teng, Nicholas Yong, Hannah Teoh and Wan Ting Koh)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would prefer not to sue his siblings for defamation over their accusations of abuse of power, although he would have done so “in any other imaginable circumstance”.
PM Lee said so while delivering his ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday (3 July) in response to allegations from his siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling that he had abused his office to prevent the demolition of their family home at 38 Oxley Road.
He explained that he had considered his options “very carefully” and believed he had “a strong case”. He said, however, that he did not wish to take legal action – such as suing or challenging the late Lee Kuan Yew’s will in court – so as to protect his parents’ names and avoid dragging out the process for years.
“In normal circumstances, in fact, in any other imaginable circumstance but this, I would have sued immediately,” PM Lee said.
“Because the accusation of the abuse of power is a very grave one, however baseless it may be. And it is an attack not just on me, but on the whole Government. But suing my own brother and sister in court would further besmirch my parents’ names. At the end of the day, we are brothers and sister, and we are all our parents’ children.”
He added, “It (suing his siblings) would also drag out the process for years… Therefore, fighting this out in court cannot be my preferred choice.”
Avoiding ‘distress’ for Singaporeans
PM Lee said he did not wish for a court case to “cause more distraction and distress to Singaporeans”. He had tried to keep his family dispute private, he said, as it was “not something to flaunt in public”.
But he had been forced to defend himself after his siblings made public allegations against him.
“I stand by the statements I have published but I really don’t want to go further if I can help it,” PM Lee said. He added that he had brought the matter to Parliament because Singaporeans are entitled to “a full answer” from him and his government.
“Parliament may not be a court of law, but it is the highest body in the land. It is also where my Government and I are accountable to MPs and to the people of Singapore,” he said.
In concluding his ministerial statement, PM Lee said, “It pains me that this episode has put (my family and my country) under a cloud, and done damage to Singapore. I hope one day I will be able to resolve the unhappiness within the family.”
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