PM’s brother calls for change as Singapore election campaign gets under way

PM’s brother calls for change as Singapore election campaign gets under way

Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s estranged brother is not running in next month’s general election but said he hopes to be a “catalyst for change” as campaigning began.

Lee Hsien Yang, who brought his family feud into politics by joining an opposition party, said the governing People’s Action Party had “lost its way” from when his father, Lee Kuan Yew, was prime minister.

Hitting out at his brother, he said empirical evidence showed that dynastic politics causes bad government and that Singapore’s leadership had failed the people.

“I have chosen not to stand for political office because I believe Singapore does not need another Lee,” Lee Hsien Yang said in a statement on Facebook.

Lee Hsien Yang with opposition activists (Risa Suzuki/AP)
Lee Hsien Yang with opposition activists (Risa Suzuki/AP)

“I do not seek power, prestige or financial rewards of political office.

“I hope to be a catalyst for change.”

“We need new ideas to reinvigorate Singapore.

“We must have genuine discussions and rigorous debate involving a diversity of Singaporean voices as we seek to navigate the challenging waters ahead,” he added, urging Singaporeans to “vote fearlessly” for a better future.

The PAP, which has ruled Singapore since 1959, has been praised for its economic management but also criticised for muzzling the media and dissenting voices.

It won a landslide victory in 2015 with 69.9% of total votes and swept 83 out of 89 parliamentary seats.

This year, it faces contests for all 93 parliamentary seats but the opposition is fragmented.

He is entitled to speak, like anybody else

Prime Minister Mr Lee, 68, told reporters after submitting his candidacy that he was not worried about his brother’s sway over voters.

The elections are expected to be the last for Mr Lee, who has ruled since 2004 and plans to retire.

“As for Lee Hsien Yang, I have no comment.

“He is entitled to speak, like anybody else.

Lee Kuan Yew and his wife at 10 Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher (Archive/PA)
Lee Kuan Yew and his wife at 10 Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher (Archive/PA)

“Nowadays on social media we can have five, six million voices on the internet.

“The public will assess which ones are worth listening to, which ones make sense,” the prime minister said.

The Lee brothers, whose father Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s prime minister for 31 years and turned it into an affluent city-state, have engaged in a public spat since 2017 over the future of the late patriarch’s family home.


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