SINGAPORE: Ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan announced Thursday that they intend to sue Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) over defamatory allegations unless an apology is issued and the statements are withdrawn.
Mr Shanmugam, the Law and Home Affairs Minister, stated that legal letters had been issued to Mr Lee, the younger brother of Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.
LHY is accused of asserting that both ministers acted in self-interest and corruptly through the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
He is alleged to have claimed that the ministers received preferential treatment by having trees felled illegally and the state-funded renovations of 26 and 31 Ridout Road. Both ministers have vehemently denied these allegations, labelling them as false.
In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam highlighted that they had requested Mr Lee to retract his accusations, issue an apology, and pay damages, proceeds of which will be donated to charity. Failure to comply with these terms would lead to legal action.
Earlier this week, under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), Singapore’s fake news law, LHY was directed to issue a correction notice regarding his Facebook post that discussed the ‘Ridout Road Saga’.
Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth and Second Minister for Law, supervised the correction’s issuance, which Mr Lee complied with on Tuesday, 25 July.
However, after complying, LHY defended his initial allegations in a subsequent Facebook post, insisting that his original claims were not misleading.
According to the POFMA directive, the renovations at the cited properties were necessary, and their funding by the SLA was unrelated to the tenant ministers. It was also clarified that independent arborists had decided to fell trees for safety reasons at both properties with necessary approval from the National Parks Board (NParks).
Further, LHY’s claim about SPH Media Trust inflating circulation figures was refuted. The alleged inflation reportedly occurred under SPH Limited’s management before SPH Media Trust was formed, which addressed and investigated the overstatement upon discovery.
In his original post, LHY criticized the People’s Action Party (PAP) for allegedly losing public trust due to misconduct and corruption. He accused his brother, PM Lee Hsien Loong, of squandering the trust they inherited from their late father, Lee Kuan Yew, recognized as the founder of modern Singapore.
LHY outlined several scandals, including a cabinet minister’s arrest on corruption charges, the inflation of circulation numbers by SPH Media Trust, and the resignation of the Speaker of Parliament due to an extramarital affair.
He ended his post by asserting that his brother’s administration no longer merits the trust of Singaporeans, thereby adding a critical note to the ongoing public debate.