SINGAPORE, Aug 18 — The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has refuted claims made by Li Shengwu that he left Singapore over fears that he would be detained and interrogated by the authorities in relation to his contempt of court case.
In his claims, published in a Reuters article this morning, Li, the son of Lee Hsien Yang, said in Singapore, “it is possible that one can be detained and interrogated for some time without a lawyer”.
He also claimed he left Singapore for the US on July 23, a week earlier than planned, as two days before that, he had received a letter from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in Singapore demanding that he issue an apology and purge a July 15 Facebook post in which he had said that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.
He told Reuters that his friends had “warned me that they were concerned for my safety if I remained in Singapore”.
In its response to queries sent by the news agency, which were carried in the article, the PMO said Li’s points on detention and interrogation are “not accurate”.
The PMO said the AGC’s application to the High Court to start contempt of court proceedings against Li is a well-established legal process.
“Clear laws and procedures apply to all cases of contempt, including this case involving Li. The courts will decide on the merits of the case,” said Chiang Li Lin, press secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the PMO statement.
“AGC has told Li that if he apologised for his comments, then the proceedings against him will be withdrawn. Li has not done so,” she added.
The AGC started legal proceedings against the Harvard academic on August 4 for contempt of court in relation to his Facebook post on July 15.
Li, whose father has been embroiled in a public feud with PM Lee over the fate of their late father’s house, had posted a link to two news articles which likened the public disagreements over 38 Oxley Road to a “political crisis”, and commented that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.
In an earlier interview with Reuters, he had said he has no intention of returning to Singapore and would defend himself with legal representation.
In this morning’s interview, he also said his grandfather’s wish to tear down the house was to ensure that it did not become iconic and feed into a cult of personality.
Lee Kuan Yew, his grandfather, is Singapore’s founding Prime Minister.
Rebutting Li’s claims on the cult of personality, Chang said: “There is no cult of LKY (referring to the initials of the late Lee)
“His vision of what Singapore can be, and what imperatives govern Singapore’s survival, remain relevant and valid. Singaporeans are grateful to Lee and the other founding leaders, and wish to honour their memory.
“That is natural and healthy.”
To Li’s charges about the People’s Action Party (PAP), the PMO noted it forms the democratically elected government of Singapore, and anyone unhappy with its performance can contest the elections and try to convince voters of their ability to do better, something that Opposition parties do regularly.
It also called Li’s claims that Prime Minister Lee was “surprised” by Lee Kuan Yew’s wish to knock down their family home “ridiculous”.
It said PM Lee had given a full accounting in Parliament that while it was his father’s personal wish to demolish the house, Lee Kuan Yew also recognised that the government had the right to preserve the house, and seriously considered and approved plans for the house in that eventuality. — TODAY