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PM Lee demands The Online Citizen take down allegedly defamatory article or face legal action

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s spokesperson has issued a letter to sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC), demanding that it remove an article containing “false” and “libellous” allegations and publish an apology.

PM Lee demands The Online Citizen take down allegedly defamatory article or face legal action

Ms Chang Li Lin, the prime minister’s press secretary, took issue with an article on The Online Citizen titled, “PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”, which she called a “scurrilous attack” on PM Lee’s character and integrity.

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s spokesperson has issued a letter to sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC), demanding that it remove an article containing “false” and “libellous” allegations and publish an apology.

In the letter sent to TOC chief editor Terry Xu at 6pm on Sunday (Sept 1) — a copy of which was made available to the media — Ms Chang Li Lin, the prime minister’s press secretary, took issue with an article titled, “PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”, which she called a “scurrilous” attack on PM Lee’s character and integrity.

A link to the article, dated Aug 15, was also posted on TOC’s Facebook page.

The article and Facebook post repeated several false allegations that were levelled against PM Lee by his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, said Ms Chang.

PM Lee is embroiled in a dispute with Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, his younger brother, over their 38 Oxley Road family home.  

The Prime Minister has demanded that Mr Xu remove the content immediately and publish a “full and unconditional apology” by Wednesday, or face legal action.

Mr Xu must also undertake not to publish any similar allegation prominently on his website, Ms Chang said.

Mr Xu could not be reached for comment, but the article was no longer online when TODAY visited the website at about 7.10pm. The Facebook post, however, was still up.

THE ALLEGATIONS

TOC’s article and post alleged that PM Lee misled his father, the late founding statesman Lee Kuan Yew, into thinking that the Government had gazetted the Oxley Road property, and that it was futile for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to keep his direction to demolish it, said Ms Chang.

Therefore, PM Lee had allegedly caused Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who wanted to demolish the house, to consider other alternatives and change his will to bequeath the house to the prime minister. 

Deriding these allegations as “completely without foundation”, Ms Chang said PM Lee’s siblings had taken a similar line in 2017, accusing the prime minister and his Government of abuse of power.

“PM Lee gave a full explanation on these matters in Parliament. He reaffirmed that Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s personal wish was for the 38 Oxley Road property to be demolished after his passing,” she said.

“However, after hearing Cabinet’s unanimous views that the property should not be demolished, Mr Lee eventually came to accept that the Government was likely to preserve the property in the public interest.”

As a result, the former prime minister was prepared to be flexible and contemplate options short of demolishing the property. With the rest of the family’s knowledge, he approved plans to redevelop the house to remove the private spaces, said Ms Chang.

PM LEE NOT EXECUTOR OF WILL SINCE 2011

The TOC article and Facebook post also contained other allegations, Ms Chang said.

For instance, they alleged that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had removed PM Lee as an executor and trustee of his will after he learnt in late 2013 that the Oxley Road property had, in fact, not been gazetted.

The truth, Ms Chang said, was that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had not included PM Lee as an executor and trustee in any of his wills from 2011.

The late Mr Lee had explained to PM Lee that he did not want to put the prime minister in a difficult position if the Government were to acquire the property and his siblings took issue over compensation, Ms Chang reiterated. 

TANTAMOUNT TO LIBEL

Ms Chang called the allegations in the article and post libellous.

Reiterating that PM Lee has so far decided against suing his siblings, Ms Chang said such a move would further besmirch their parents’ names and was, therefore, not his preferred path, as the prime minister has told Parliament.

“PM Lee also made clear to Parliament that under any other circumstances, he would have sued immediately, and that his decision not to sue his siblings then did not mean that he would not ever take legal action, should this become necessary,” Ms Chang said. 

She cautioned that PM Lee’s restraint in suing Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang should not be misinterpreted by others as “free licence” to repeat and spread false and defamatory allegations against him, as TOC’s article and post have done.

“He has to rebut and deal publicly with such scurrilous attacks on his integrity and character, if necessary through legal action. This is especially as such attacks are also directed at his fitness to hold office as prime minister and to lead the Government,” she said.

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The Online Citizen PMO Lee Hsien Loong 38 Oxley Road

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