Singapore court orders PM's estranged brother to pay damages to ministers

By AFP   November 27, 2023 | 06:51 pm PT
Singapore court orders PM's estranged brother to pay damages to ministers
Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo by AFP
A Singapore court on Monday ordered the prime minister's estranged brother to pay damages to two cabinet ministers over a Facebook post they said was defamatory.

Lee Hsien Yang's post related to a controversy over the rental of sprawling colonial bungalows by the foreign affairs and law ministers, who have both been cleared of any wrongdoing following two investigations.

The allegations he made that the two ministers were given preferential treatment sparked an outcry in the city-state, where most of the population lives in government-built high-rise apartments.

High Court Judge Goh Yihan said he issued the default judgment after Lee failed to respond to the charges.

The amount to be paid to the ministers will be determined at a separate hearing, he added.

He also directed Lee Hsien Yang, 66, to refrain from further disseminating the allegations claiming that the ministers acted "corruptly."

The younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 71, fled the country last year following a family feud claiming political persecution – allegations that the government has denied.

He was served a court notice about the lawsuits through Facebook Messenger.

The Lee siblings have been at odds following the death in 2015 of their father, modern Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, over what to do with a historic family house after his passing.

The younger Lee and his sister, Lee Wei Ling, have accused their prime minister brother of going against their father's wish to have the house demolished.

They accused him of trying to capitalize on their father's legacy to build a dynasty – a charge Lee Hsien Loong, has rejected.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Lee announced he will hand over power to a younger generation of leaders led by his deputy Lawrence Wong before the 2025 general elections.

If Wong takes over, it would be only the second time since Singapore's independence in 1965 that the prime minister is not a member of the Lee family.

The patriarch Lee was the country's first prime minister.

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