Monday, April 11, 2016

The Lee Family Dispute

When the parents died, quarrels between siblings is not unexpected. However when you are the Lee family and one of you is the Prime Minister of Singapore, the family dispute somehow suddenly becomes national news and of public interest.

The problem began when Dr Lee Wei Lin wrote on her Facebook that there was excessive hero-worshipping of her late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. She also claimed that she had to publish her post on Facebook because the Straits Times, Singapore’s government owned newspaper, refused to publish the article.

The Straits Times editor Ivan Fernandez defended the newspaper’s decision not to run Dr Lee’s commentary and Dr Lee re-posted their e-mail exchanges on her Facebook. Amid the exchange she wrote:
I and HL are at odds on a matter of principle. HL has no qualms abusing his power to hv a commemoration just one year after LKY died, ‘least we forget’. Let’s be real, last year’s event was so vivid, no one will forget it in one yr. But if the power that be wants to establish a dynasty, LKY’s daughter will not allow LKY’s name to be sullied by a dishonorable son.”

HL is Dr Lee's older brother, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This forced the Singapore PM to response. Just 5 hours after Singaporeans saw Dr Lee’s post, PM Lee said that he was “deeply saddened” by his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling’s claim that “I have abused my power to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing in order to establish a dynasty”.

Looking at the public disagreement, 2 things has come to light to Singaporeans. First; there’s a dispute in the Lee family on how to honor Mr Lee Kuan Yew. As a politician, it probably makes a lot of sense for the PM to go all out to “remind” Singaporeans of his father’s legacy. That’s something some members of his family do not want.

Second; the rules are different for the elites. The Strait Times engaging in censorship? Wow, that’s new. Totally unheard of in Singapore. If you are an elite that comes from the Lee family, that seems to be the case because Dr Lee was very angry about the Strait Times not publishing her article. To the rest of Singapore, that’s par for course.

So what do I think about the whole thing? Nothing! This is a family dispute. Even though this is Lee Kuan Yew, the rest of Singapore (and that includes me) should not say a thing about the whole thing. It’s a domestic situation and none of our bloody business. 

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