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The brother of Singapore’s prime minister on Friday accused government authorities of persecuting his family after it emerged that he and his wife were under official investigation.
Lee Hsien Yang has long been at odds with his brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over the will of their late father — longtime Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who ushered Singapore through independence from Britain.
The family feud had largely died down until Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean told lawmakers that Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, were under investigation.
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In a written answer to parliament made public Thursday, he said the two were being investigated over allegations of providing false evidence in judicial proceedings regarding the will.
They are accused of lying under oath by a panel of three judges and a disciplinary tribunal, Teo Chee Hean wrote.
He told parliament the two had agreed to an interview with police but then later refused, which he said was “disappointing.”
“The police have advised them to reconsider participating in investigations, but they have since left Singapore and remain out of the country,” he wrote, according to a copy of the reply to parliament provided by his office.
Family members of the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew arrive with his portrait at the state funeral in Singapore on March 29, 2015. The brother of Singapore’s current prime minister and son of late Lee Kuan Yew is accusing government authorities of persecuting his family. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair, File)
Contacted by The Associated Press on Friday, Lee Hsien Yang rejected the allegations as “a further attempt to discredit and attack me,” but said “it is not safe for me to return” to Singapore.
In a post on Facebook, Lee Hsien Yang said he and his sister, Lee Wei Ling, who had joined him in questioning the execution of the will, had long said they “feared the use of organs of the state against us and my family.”
“The persecution of my family by the Singapore authorities continues unabated,” he wrote.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he has previously called his siblings’ accusations that he had misused government power against them “entirely baseless.”
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Their father, Lee Kuan Yew, led Singapore with an iron grip for more than three decades and is credited with transforming the resource-poor island into a wealthy, bustling financial hub with low crime and almost zero corruption.
Following his death in 2015, the siblings clashed over a clause in his will indicating a family bungalow should be demolished rather than become some kind of tourist attraction.
Lee Hsien Yang and his sister have accused their brother, the prime minister, of instead preserving the house to “enhance his political capital” as a “visible symbol” of their father.
The prime minister has rejected the allegations and said he recused himself from the government’s decision-making process on deciding the house’s fate.
Lee Hsien Yang told the AP, however, that their father’s will left no room for doubt, and that he “did not want to create a shrine to himself.”
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“It is clear that my father wanted the house demolished and he made it clear during his lifetime; it was clear in his will,” he said, adding that when the will was probated in 2015 “that was the time to address it.”
Lee Hsien Yang’s son, Shengwu Li, tweeted that for his parents to come back to Singapore for questioning could put them at risk.
“In Singapore, the authorities can hold you indefinitely, under inhumane conditions, without timely access to a lawyer,” wrote Li, an assistant professor of economics at Harvard.
“When a hostile authoritarian government says they want to ‘question’ you it is clear what that means.”