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The Lee Family’s Path to Exile


I find myself deeply saddened by the recent statement put out by Hsien Yang and Wei Ling posted in the Straits Times and which has been covered by nearly every newspaper in the world. As well as being saddened by the shoddy treatment of some of LKY’s descendants by some of his other descendants, I find myself more than a little shocked.

I’m shocked because who knew until today that Lee Hsien Loong was an authoritarian leader? How could we have possibly known that his wife Ho Ching had accrued so much power? Certainly it never occurred to me when I took LHL’s government to court over the IMF loan. I’m sure the thought had never crossed M. Ravi’s mind when he helped Madam Vellama bring a case to court designed to put a fetter on LHL’s absolute power.

I must say this recent turn of events has caused a seismic shift in my view of my beloved country. For so long I have been proud of our nation as a pure meritocracy and robust democracy with the strict separation of power, checks and balances on the executive and a fiercely independent media and judiciary. Now it seems that Hsien Yang is accusing his brother PM Lee not of building up a constructive democracy but that rather he sought by all means possible to demolish the PAP and our system of government. Shocking  indeed!

Hsien Yang and Wei Ling have woken me from my slumbers (to quote JBJ) and now I’m forced to entertain the suspicion that we’re ruled by a dynastic power and a bunch of sycophants. The most frightening aspect is…..could it be….. is it even possible…. that it’s all about money?

However enough about my shock and sadness. How about the shock and sadness in the Lee family?  I see myself as a kind of public servant (unelected, unpaid) and have always felt it my duty to reach out to help Singaporeans in need. I’m particularly moved by Hsien Yang’s declaration that he’s been driven into exile from his beloved country by the draconian actions of his brother, our beloved PM Lee. As you may know I have a great deal of experience in the rapidly expanding exile field.  I’ve only recently returned from Chicago where I was helping the young exile Amos Yee. It strikes me that the ruling of the judge when he granted Amos refugee status in the US echoes what Hsien Yang says about Hsien Loong’s misuse of power at the very top.  In fact the judge’s decision to grant Amos asylum as a young political dissident was predicated on the very credible fear of the use of the organs of state against him.

I too was exiled from Singapore by my need to find gainful employment back in the early 1980s.  At that time, while I was struggling penniless overseas trying to find work and support my dear father, Hsien Yang’s own dear father Lee Kuan Yew had just appointed him head of SingTel. The Lee family’s future at the time looked both prosperous and promising. Their family fortunes were bolstered not just by appointments to Satan corporations but by their mother’s law firm, Lee & Lee, being appointed preferred lawyers for HDB conveyancing, all of this purely on merit I hasten to add. Now look at Hsien Yang’s pitiful condition.

I’m also  more than a little concerned for little sister Wei Ling sitting alone in her Nassim Jade condo with nothing but a microwaved salmon dinner for company. Reading her autobiography it seems that conditions in her condo are incredibly cramped and uncomfortable which makes you wonder why LKY, Lee Hsien Loong, his wife, aunt, uncle, Lee Hsien Yang, Lee Wei Ling and all the other members of the Lee clan jumped in to buy units there at a heavy discount.

You’re probably familiar with the unfortunate series of events that led to that mess. LHL with a double First in Maths from Trinity Cambridge,  in a rare abuse of his brain rather than his power, had simply not realised  that the units were being offered at a discount not available to the public and without the knowledge of the shareholders.  Even world class mathematicians sometimes go to work without all the cylinders  firing it seems. Even though  the shareholders complained no hint of corruption attached to the Lee family over this incident as they then all returned their ill-gotten gains.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The upside of this for Hsien Yang is that there’s a kind of club for those who’ve been forced into exile who can also say Hsien Loong is the only reason for my departure. I can link him into this network in the UK, US and Canada though I feel he may prefer to stick to what he knows best and move to a low tax haven such as Panama and the Cayman Islands. After all times are tough when you’re down to your last several hundred million and when you become an exile is a good time to start economizing.

My advice is to start off by getting a job straight away. This will keep him busy and distract from the inevitable homesickness. Francis Khoo, a qualified lawyer in Singapore, found happiness switching career paths to  public toilet cleaner in London. I’m happy to say this career path is open to anyone and there may even be a UK Government grant available for retraining if Hsien Yang and his wife fel they lack the skill set. Tan Wah Piow, who was forced into exile along with Francis, had previously had dreams of becoming an architect and he successfully climbed his way up from toilet cleaner and retrained to become a solicitor.

Actually Wah Piow is very hot on asylum cases and I can recommend his services to the Lee family in exile as they go through the long and demoralising refugee application process. As well as an  honest day’s work, a Singaporean exile will always be in need of a good lawyer for other issues. Unfortunately their brother LHL’s personal lawyer  Lucien Wong has recently been appointed AG so they had better look outside Singapore for counsel. I understand that for a very modest $3000, Gopalan Nair is available.

Cultural confusion is another minefield that recent exiles have to navigate on the path to new lives in a strange country. In an English speaking country Suet Fern may find that when she introduces herself she gets the  following response

“Hi, Suet Fern”

“No thanks, I don’t eat dumplings”

in fact she is best advised to avoid the UK altogether around Christmas time. Her dear departed father in law in fact established a long tradition of cultural misunderstandings. he seemed to have particular trouble with the names of Singaporeans of Tamil descent. He joked about JBJ; Not geriatric yet..  Jeya .. geddit? No neither did we. And he claime din Parliament that Tamil names like Joshua were slave names. Come to think of  it after what he said about Malays its safe to say that DAD had problems with any culture that wasn’t his own.

On a sombre note I see that Hsien Yang fears for his wife Suet Fern and his son. Again I can offer a unique personal perspective which is basicallythis:

You’re  f****d.

Once the Lees decide to go after one line of a family they never let go and the vindictive vendetta will travel down generations. My wife and my son, with no connection with Singapore at all, were targeted for over two years with horrific threats. Though we all know where the cyber terrorism is emanating from, our organs of state have been spectacularly unsuccessful in bringing any prosecutions. I hope this is not what the minor Lees have to look forward to.

It’s a terrible thing to be made an exile and I’m sure all Singaporeans who’ve suffered over the past five decades of Lee family appropriation of power and resources will be delighted to know that they’ve some heavy hitters batting on their side. I’m only sad it’s too late for Francis Khoo who was never able to see his beloved home country before he died.

9 Comments »

  1. So far what has surfaced in the public from the Lee family dispute are the flwg:-
    1) LHY claims that he fears for his life in S’pore & yet he is very much lively & robust in the squabbles.
    2)LHY claims that LHL is grooming one of his sons in politics & yet this son has made public that he has no interest in politics.
    3) LHY claims that his lawyer cousin, Ms Kwa drafted the final will of LKY & yet Ms Kwa has denied it.
    4)LHY claims that a Gov’t secret committee is after him & yet the elected Gov’t has every right to do what is legally right for S’pore under the conservation law, period.
    So, which statement of LHY can stand up in a court of law ???

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    • Li Hongyi is being hypocritical and/or disingenuous when he says he has no nteresr in politics. He benefited from government scholarships despite being from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore. He is a consultant to a government agency. How did he get that contract? He is also reported to have worked for Google. How did he get that job except through Daddy’s influence. What tax breaks or Govt/Temasek business has Singapore given Google?

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  2. Dear Ken

    Amazing piece of writing. Filled with pithy consolation surrounded by mockery and occassional sarcasm.

    In response, I reckon I am too gentle. In 9 lines:
    (including onomatopoeia)

    “Oxley Rise
    What a surprise
    Lee Family
    Now no Fami-Lee
    Sibling rivalry
    With Lee, Lee & Lee
    T’was a simple plea
    For Oxley
    To Be or Not To Be!”

    Cheers
    Nageswaran
    (Ex singaporean now Australian)

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  3. 1) Why then didn’t they expose him at the recent GE or the previous ones to do him the max political damage ? Why only do it now, when everything is so calm ?
    2) One man’s meat is another man’s poison, period. Just let the eleced Gov’t do what is right for S’pore, ok ? Otherwise, let the majority voters decide at the next GE, ok ? 3) Just don’t be so naive, ok ? Their squabbles have nothing with S’pore politics, but everything to do with private & personal wishes over their parents house, period. Plain & simple. Nothing more & nothing less. Also, perhaps one of them has a personal matter to take care of in the foreign closet from the past, remember ?

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  4. I find it ironic that Hsien Yang and his sister should talk about “upholding their father’s legacy” when their father’s principal legacy has been to turn Singapore into a police state. That this has now come to bite them in the back with a vengence should surprise them, of all the people, the least.

    BTW, in your list of exiles you don’t mention the late Francis Seow, perhaps the most illustrious Singaporean exile ever, a one-time counsel to the “1987 Marxists” and fellow candidate with JBJ on a Worker’s Party ticket in the 1988 GE. Yes, the list of exiles under LKY’s and now LHL’s Singapore is long and growing longer by the day.

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    • Actually Francis Seow never stood with my dad who was barred at the time because of his wrongful conviction despite the Privy Council having asked the Government to overturn it.

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      • Arguably more illustrious than Francis Seow was Deavn Nair, Singapore’s third president, for the benefit of younger readers.

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    • LHY now claims to be fearful of living in S’pore. Yet, he is very much lively & robustic in the daily family squabbles & even in response to the Gov’t Committee. Why is this the case ?

      Like

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