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OP-ED: Lee Hsien Yang – subversion with a side of champagne and caviar

How will history remember Lee Hsien Yang?

In April this year, Lee Hsien Yang publicly criticised the impending appointment of Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong as Senior Minister (SM), scheduled following the leadership transition to Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong on 15 May 2024.

Lee Hsien Yang asked if DPM Wong will really be calling the shots.

Lee Hsien Yang’s son, Li Shengwu, also expressed dissatisfaction when SM Teo Chee Hean articulated to the media how PM Lee managed the 38 Oxley Road incident in a principled manner, distinguishing his personal affairs from the country’s needs.

The younger Li publicly lambasted the media for “attacking his parents again.”

One might question why Lee Hsien Yang did not raise similar concerns when his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, assumed the roles of Senior Minister and Minister Mentor.

However, it is clear that Lee Hsien Yang’s ongoing feud with his elder brother is the primary driver of his actions, leading him to actively undermine the legacy of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew — all out of spite.

Furthermore, Li Shengwu’s persistent and outspoken social media presence, discussing local politics among other topics, contrasts with PM Lee Hsien Loong’s statement that his children are not politically inclined and prefer to remain out of the spotlight.

Another ‘Lee’ in Singapore politics?

There was speculation that Lee Hsien Yang might enter politics with the Progress Singapore Party, though he ultimately did not pursue candidacy – with some observers accusing Lee Hsien Yang of using the elections as a platform to settle personal scores rather than to serve public interest.

His son Li Shengwu, however, appears to be considering a political role.

Perhaps we will indeed see the next generation of Lees in politics.

Subversion with a side of champagne and caviar

In this critical period of leadership transition where both state and non-state actors in the international community will be looking to test Singapore’s 4G leadership, Lee Hsien Yang and his progeny seem intent on undermining Singapore’s image abroad.

It is well-known that Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, Lim Suet Fern, have travelled extensively – on business and first-class seats – engaging with international media in Japan, the UK, and the US to criticise Singaporean leadership.

Having absconded Singapore amidst investigations for perjury – lying under oath during judicial proceedings, Lee Hsien Yang and his family have sold their houses and wines in Singapore and relocated overseas, continuing their affluent lifestyle while potentially undermining Singapore’s interests. This level of privilege sharply contrasts with the common Singaporean, who, facing similar scrutiny, would have no choice but to stand firm and face the music.

Of Treachery and Patriotism

Contrastingly, PM Lee has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Singapore, exemplified by his decision to return from Cambridge University, rejecting a fellowship offer to join the Singapore Armed Forces, emphasising his role and responsibilities towards the nation.

When Trinity College in Cambridge offered the young Lee Hsien Loong a fellowship to become a mathematician:

“He wrote to his tutor and said – I must go home. I’ve joined the Singapore Armed Forces, my father’s the PM, and for me not to go home and do what I have to do would be bad for the country and bad for me.”

In the letter that PM Lee wrote to his tutor in Cambridge University, PM Lee also said: “I am going back. I do not want to be a spectator and I’m going to play a part in Singapore.”

Mr Lee Kuan Yew noted that PM Lee Hsien Loong’s “commitment to Singapore was total.”

As we near the leadership handover on 15 May, it is clear to most Singaporeans that PM Lee has devoted his life to the service of Singaporeans, a commitment that sadly does not seem to be shared by his younger brother.

Thank you, PM Lee, for your years of dedicated service.

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