Singapore PM's brother joins opposition party ahead of general elections

Gurdip Singh

Singapore, Jun 24 (PTI) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang on Wednesday joined an opposition political party ahead of the general elections next month as the family feud spilled into politics.

Lee Hsien Yang formally joined the Progress Singapore Party led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, a former member of the People’s Action Party, which has ruled the city-state since its independence in 1965.

It was not clear if Lee Hsien Yang, second son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, will contest for a parliamentary seat in the General Elections scheduled for July 10.

Lee Hsien Yang was presented a membership card of the Progress Singapore Party, now rated one of the biggest challengers to the ruling party in the elections.

Dr Tan said that Lee Hsien Yang has been a member 'for quite some time', but due to the COVID-19 situation, they were unable to have a proper membership card presentation ceremony.

'This morning, I have a great pleasure in giving this Progress Singapore Party membership card to Lee Hsien Yang, who joined us quite some time ago,' The Straits Times quoted Dr Tan as saying.

Lee Hsien Yang reportedly joined the party two months ago, just before the circuit breaker, according to the paper which quoted PSP party sources as saying that he was unlikely to be fielded as a candidate at next month’s election.

Asked if he would be standing for elections, Lee Hsien Yang replied: 'When I'm ready to disclose that, you will find out.' Lee Hsien Yang, rated the favourite to win if he contests a parliamentary seat in the election, said, 'I joined the party because I think that Dr Tan is committed to doing the right thing for Singapore and Singaporeans and he loves the country. And he has brought together a group of people who share his vision, and it is a vision which I believe will build a better Singapore.” He highlighted issues such as income inequality, housing and governance and transparency, saying these need to be dealt with, and noted that “the PSP has an approach that emphasises compassion”.

Dr Tan also evaded a direct reply about whether Lee would contest the polls: “I’m not confirming... Don’t worry. In politics, we know when to make our move. Timing is important.” He noted that there were many ways Lee Hsien Yang could contribute to the party.

'He is not just an ordinary person. His father is the founder of Singapore, you know, so that’s very important. And the fact he has decided to join us is a clear indication that the current (Government) didn’t follow what his dad wanted,” Dr Tan said.

The development comes a day after Parliament was dissolved and the Writ of Election was issued by the President on June 23. The nomination day was set for June 30, with polling day on July 10, a public holiday, given that it is compulsory for Singapore citizens to vote.

Dr Tan said on Wednesday that the timing of the election was 'irresponsible' and potentially puts a lot of the elderly into a dangerous situation, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

'The signs are there, it is so clear. And if they don't want to heed the signs then the price they have to pay, as I said before, they might win this battle but they are going to lose the war.' Lee Hsien Yang has been embroiled in a long-running feud with his brother over the fate of their father's house in Oxley Road whether to preserve it or demolish it, the latter being their late father wishes and reportedly stated in his will. PTI GS ZH