Singapore's leader apologizes to public for family dispute
Prime minister also pledges to disprove 'baseless allegation' over father's will
MAYUKO TANI, Nikkei staff writer
SINGAPORE -- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologized to the people of Singapore for the disruption caused by his ongoing quarrel with two siblings over the will of their father, Lee Kuan Yew, the country's first prime minister.
"I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore's reputation and Singaporeans' confidence in the government," the leader said in the televised message Monday evening as he returned to duty after vacationing overseas. "As your prime minister, I apologize to you for this."
The family feud became public June 14 when Lee Wei Ling, the prime minister's sister and former director of the National Neuroscience Institute, and brother Lee Hsien Yang, former CEO of Singapore Telecommunications, together criticized the elder brother in a statement, charging that he was misusing his power to get his way.
The disagreement centers on the house left by their late father. The senior Lee, who died in March 2015, had stated his desire to have the house demolished after his death, or immediately after his daughter moved out, a wish that also appeared in his will. The younger Lees support his request, but claim the elder brother wanted to keep the house to "enhance his political capital." The prime minister said he has serious questions regarding how the will was prepared. The siblings have engaged in fierce spats via Facebook since then.
Singaporeans have been watching the public dispute between the members of the country's first family, and many have expressed on social media their weariness with the drama. "Let's just demolish [the house] and move on," said a male Singaporean who works in the financial industry.
Yet the row is expected to continue. Lee Hsien Loong said in his message Monday that he will "refute" his siblings' "baseless allegations" over his conduct as prime minister and the integrity of the government at parliament July 3. He called for open discussion among parliament members to "strengthen confidence in our institutions and our system of government."
"We are determined to repair the damage that has been done to Singapore," Lee pledged to the citizens.