Singapore (AFP) – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologised to Singaporeans on Monday for a bitter family feud over his late father’s legacy, saying it had damaged the country’s reputation.
Lee and two younger children of revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew have been attacking each other on Facebook and international media for days as a dispute over the patriarch’s estate became public, a spectacle that has shocked Singaporeans.
“I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the government,” Lee said in a statement he read in a pre-taped video aired by national broadcaster Mediacorp.
“As your Prime Minister, I apologise to you for this.
“And as the eldest of the siblings, it grieves me to think of the anguish that this would have caused our parents if they were still alive.”
The Lees are the closest thing Singapore has to royalty, dominating the now wealthy island’s politics for nearly six decades.
The patriarch served as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, and the current leader has been in power since 2004. The city-state has had only one other prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.
The row burst into the open last Wednesday, when the prime minister’s sister Wei Ling and younger brother Hsien Yang released a statement accusing him of misusing his power and trying to milk their father’s legacy for political gains.
The row largely centres around a clause in Lee’s final will, which stated that the old family home should be demolished after his death.
– Fears of monument –
Lee Kuan Yew, who was known for frugality, was opposed to the emergence of a personality cult after his death. He feared the house would become a monument, with strangers walking through the family’s private quarters.
The sparsely furnished five-bedroom house in Oxley Road was built in the late 19th century in what used to be a plantation district, and gained value as Singapore became urbanised and prosperous.
A property agent told AFP it is likely to be…