Singapore to take legal action against Lee Kuan Yew grandson
SINGAPORE – Singapore's government said Friday, August 4, it was taking legal action against the grandson of founding leader Lee Kuan Yew over a Facebook post linked to a family feud that has gripped the city-state.
The spat between Lee Kuan Yew's 3 children – current prime minister Hsien Loong, corporate executive Hsien Yang, and neurologist Wei Ling – centers on what to do with their late father's home, a century-old bungalow.
Lee Kuan Yew, who is widely credited with transforming Singapore from a British colony to one of Asia's wealthiest countries, stated in his will that he wants the house torn down to avoid the building of a personality cult around him.
But the prime minister's siblings said their brother is attempting to block the house's demolition to capitalize on their father's legacy for his own political agenda.
In a statement late Friday, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said it was applying for permission to prosecute Li Shengwu over a July Facebook post in which he alleged the government was litigious and stifling freedom of speech over the spat.
Li, an academic at Harvard University, is the eldest son of Hsien Yang.
He had also posted links to a summary of the feud between his father, aunt and uncle.
The AGC had described his post as "an egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore Judiciary and constitutes an offense of contempt of court".
It had asked Li to delete the post and sign an apology.
Instead he clarified his comments in a post earlier Friday, saying that it was not his intention to attack the judiciary.
"Any criticism I made is of the Singapore government’s litigious nature, and its use of legal rules and actions to stifle the free press," he said.
The AGC said in its Friday statement: "As Mr Li has failed to purge the contempt and to apologize by the extended deadline, an application for leave to commence committal proceedings for contempt against him will today be filed in the High Court."
Premier Lee, 65, has denied the allegations of blocking the building's demolition but said he would not sue his siblings.
Political opponents and dissidents have previously been hit with financially ruinous defamation lawsuits filed by Singapore's leaders.
Played out across social media, details of the feud have enthralled a city-state unused to open criticism of its political leaders. – Rappler.com