The attorney general’s chambers (AGC) of Singapore has announced that it will be taking legal action against the grandson of the leader Lee Kuan Yew over a Facebook post.
A brewing family feud is at the center of the controversy that has gripped the city-state.
Lee Kuan Yew, is considered the founding father of Singapore. He was the nation’s first Prime Minister and governed for around three decades. During his tenure as a leader, the country emerged from being a third world nation to one of the most advanced countries in the world.
He has three children - Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Hsien Yang, a corporate executive and Lee Wei Ling, a neurologist. Lee Hsien Loong is the current Prime Minister of Singapore.
When Lee Kuan Yew died in 2015, his will stated that he wanted his home, a century-old bungalow to be destroyed. He was afraid that the home would become the site of a ‘personality cult’ built around him and he wanted to avoid that. The problems began when the siblings of the current Prime Minister said that he was preventing the home from being destroyed. They alleged that he wanted to keep the bungalow around to gain political clout.
Li Shengwu, is the son of Lee Hsien Yang and is currently at Harvard University. He had taken to Facebook to post articles about the family feud. He also seemingly alleged that Singaporean government was stifling the freedom of speech.
The attorney general’s chambers (AGC) said this was an “egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore judiciary and constitutes an offence of contempt of court.” It also noted, “As Mr Li has failed to purge the contempt and to apologise by the extended deadline, an application for leave to commence committal proceedings for contempt against him will today be filed in the high court”
Shengwu, who will begin his position as an assistant professor at Harvard University in 2018 has made it clear that he will not be returning to Singapore. He told Reuters, “I have no intention of going back to Singapore. I have a happy life and a fulfilling job in the U.S.” However, he will be defending himself through legal representation in Singapore.
He has also maintained that it was not his intention to “attack the Singapore judiciary or to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.”
Our assessment is that the legacy of one of the most beloved political figures of Singapore could be tarnished because of this feud. Historically, family feuds have often been at the center of political controversies.