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Singapore PM’s Younger Brother Thrusts Bitter First-family Squabble Into Politics

Lee Hsien Yang of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) greets a hawker throughout a walkabout forward of the final election in Singapore June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The youthful Lee, 62 is described by individuals near him as shy, distant from his highly effective brother however not afraid to problem the established order.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 29, 2020, 11:39 AM IST

When the brother of Singapore’s prime minister joined the opposition to the occasion their father led by way of the city-state’s independence and rise as a nation, he introduced a bitter household squabble into the realm of politics on the eve of a normal election.

Lee Hsien Yang, youthful brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and son of recent Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, stated final week he was a member of the brand new Progress Singapore Party (PSP). He stated the People’s Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, had “lost its way” with out his late father.

The youthful Lee, 62 – described by individuals near him as shy, distant from his highly effective brother however not afraid to problem the established order – has made no coverage statements or stated whether or not he’ll run for workplace, one thing candidates for the July 10 election should declare on Tuesday.

It just isn’t clear if his transfer can energise an opposition that holds simply six of parliament’s 89 seats, and it isn’t anticipated to change prospects for a lopsided ruling occasion win.

But Lee Hsien Yang’s dramatic transfer presents Singaporean voters an inversion of the marketing campaign that the PAP is providing as Prime Minister Lee, 68, prepares to retire within the coming years.

The ruling occasion depicts the federal government’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic as this era’s heroic sacrifice, paying homage to the “Pioneer Generation,” led by Lee Kuan Yew, that cast the tiny island from a dot on Britain’s colonial map right into a first-world economic system.

Lee Hsien Yang’s rebuke: This just isn’t our father’s PAP.

“I have never sought the limelight, and most people know that actually I value my own privacy,” Lee Hsien Yang informed reporters on Sunday at a PSP occasion at a meals court docket. “I’m here because I think sometimes we need to speak truth to power.”

He has criticised the PAP authorities for calling an election throughout a pandemic and its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, during which 1000’s of Singapore’s migrant staff have been contaminated. He has additionally criticised a 2019 “fake news” regulation that has been used in opposition to authorities opponents and stated the PAP suffers from “narrow group-think” and primarily serves the elite in society.

The ruling occasion declined to remark.


The Lee brothers weren’t shut however had no main quarrels most of their lives, stated an individual near the youthful Lee. A enterprise affiliate stated Lee Hsien Yang was mild-mannered however defensive about his mother and father.

He had repeatedly stated he was not taken with politics.

That modified after his father’s loss of life in 2015, when Lee Hsien Yang and his sister alleged their older brother wished to protect the household house for political acquire regardless of their father requesting it’s demolished in his will.

The youthful Lee stated the prolonged feud didn’t encourage him to affix the opposition.

The brothers, who declined to be interviewed for this text, had been each military brigadier-generals however their careers have in any other case diverged.

Lee Hsien Loong, first elected in 1984, grew to become deputy prime minister aged 38 and has led the PAP for 16 years. Lee Hsien Yang was CEO of telecommunications agency Singtel and chairman of drinks conglomerate F&N.

Patriarch Lee Kuan Yew, referred to as LKY, wrote little in his memoirs about his youthful son in comparison with mentions of the present prime minister however stated in a 2011 interview Lee Hsien Yang was a “sensible and practical man” who was “not under his brother’s shadow.”

With an brazenly homosexual son, Lee Hsien Yang final 12 months attended a Pride march within the conservative city-state the place intercourse between males is outlawed.

Can this iconoclastic scion with the frequent contact make a distinction?

Loke Hoe Yeong, creator of a historical past of Singapore’s opposition, stated Lee Hsien Yang’s arrival will energise opposition events however might additionally antagonise voters who do not suppose a household spat over a home needs to be aired publicly.

Former PAP lawmaker Inderjit Singh stated Lee Hsien Yang’s presence within the opposition might sway some voters, who’ve at all times given the ruling occasion not less than 60% of the vote.

“When people see LKY’s son switching camp to the opposition, this may create doubts…that the PAP of the present is not the same as the PAP of the past,” Singh stated.

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