Singapore PM's brother urges voters to 'rescue country' at polls

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, registering his participation in forthcoming elections

The Singapore prime minister's estranged brother urged voters Tuesday to "rescue the future of the country" by backing the opposition as campaigning got underway for next week's general election.

Lee Hsien Yang, locked in a bitter feud with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has joined an opposition party ahead of the July 10 election in a new challenge to the long-ruling government.

Their father, Lee Kuan Yew, was the city-state's founding leader and prime minister for over three decades.

While the dominant People's Action Party (PAP) is assured of holding on to power, observers believe Lee Hsien Yang's move could dent the government's support.

There had been speculation the 62-year-old business executive would stand as a candidate for parliament, but he said he had decided not to as "Singapore does not need another Lee".

"I do not seek power, prestige or financial rewards of political office. I hope to be a catalyst for change," he wrote on Facebook.

"Many Singaporeans are very troubled that Singapore no longer has the leadership it needs. Sadly, the current government has failed its people.

"Vote fearlessly. Rescue the future of the country we love."

Lee Hsien Yang is supporting the Progress Singapore Party, which was founded last year and is headed by a popular former PAP stalwart, Tan Cheng Bock.

After officially registering as a candidate for the polls, the premier brushed off questions about his sibling.

"It's a general election for the most important issues concerning (the) country at a moment of crisis," he said.

Singapore is struggling to recover from a coronavirus outbreak which hit dormitories housing low-paid migrant workers particularly hard.

The trade-dependent city-state has suffered a heavy blow from the pandemic, and official forecasts predict it is heading for its worst recession since independence in 1965.

The campaign will be muted as rallies are banned due to virus curbs, but candidates will still hit the streets to talk to voters in their constituencies.

The long-running family row centres on allegations made by the premier's siblings that he is seeking to block the demolition of a family bungalow to capitalise on Lee Kuan Yew's legacy -- something he has denied.