Lee vs Lee – Why suing is not an option for Lee Hsien Loong

The three siblings of our Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew were accomplished. Hsien Loong, Wei Ling and Hsien Yang were all President’s Scholars and dutifully rose to the top of their respective game and spheres. Why has the family come to this with the public spat?
Lee Hsien Loong

For their eldest son, Papa and Mama chose the name 显龙 (Hsien Loong). It means “illustrious dragon”. It was an appropriate and auspicious name for a boy, especially one born in the year of the dragon. – Lee Hsien Yang’s Eulogy

Lee Hsien Loong’s Memories

At the 60th anniversary dinner of Lee and Lee (the law firm founded by his late parents, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mdm Mdm Kwa Geok Choo, and uncle Dennis Lee), Hsien Loong was an avid stamp collector and he would be fascinated by the legal documents his mother used to bring home from work. He was fascinated by the $500 and $1,000 stamps pasted on those documents. Hsien Loong recalled “My mother would look at me and say these are not postage stamps but revenue stamps, you don’t put them on envelopes!”

Lee Wei Ling

For my sister they chose the name 玮玲 (Wei Ling), which means “the beautiful sound of tinkling jade”. I suppose Mama thought that it was an appropriate and feminine name for a daughter, thoughX I don’t think it in any way circumscribe Ling’s development! – Lee Hsien Yang’s Eulogy

Lee Wei Ling’s Memories

According to daughter Lee Wei Ling, she remembered that they were told by their parents that they should not “behave like the PM’s children” and expect to be treated differently. “As a result, we treated everyone – friends, labourers and Cabinet ministers – with equal respect. My father’s security officers became our friends,” she said.

She also remembered that the importance of being frugal was being instilled in them from young. om young. “We had to turn off water taps completely. If my parents found a dripping tap, we would get a ticking off. And when we left a room, we had to switch off lights and air-conditioners.”

Lee Hsien Yang

For me, they chose the name 显扬 (Hsien Yang). Some people think that since I am called Yang, I must be born in the Year of the Goat. Actually it is several years before me, if I was born in the Year of the Goat, I would be 60 now. The name 扬 which mean 赞扬 or 表扬 and indeed it has more literary origin. It was taken from (三字經). Though my mother used to tease me before I knew this and said, your name means that you are an “Illustrious show off”. Actually the phrase that it was taken from was 扬名声,显父母 which means to bring honour and glory to your parents. – Lee Hsien Yang’s Eulogy

Lee Hsien Yang’s Memories

During the Lee Hsien Yang’s eulogy for Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the University Cultural Centre (UCC) at the State Funeral, he shared “And for as long as I can remember, Papa was a public figure. As a child, I was only vaguely aware that my father was an “orang besar” or “VIP” in Malay. All little children must think their fathers are special; I do not remember when it dawned on me that he was not just my own special father and not just an ordinary “orang besar”, he was an extraordinary “orang besar”. Papa was immersed in his work for much of my childhood. In September 1998, he gave Fern and me our copy of his book, “The Singapore Story”. In it, he penned a note with a tinge of regret: “To Yang and Fern, you grew up while I was running around as I describe in this book.”

Their childhood through the eyes of the former family helper

Madam Ouyang, the former family helper who had worked for the Lees for more than 40 years, said the children were always “courteous, respectful and obedient” as a result of their parents’ strict discipline. She also fondly described that unlike other children born into a well-off family, the three children had to seek their parents’ approval to buy anything.

When Mr Lee became Prime Minister, Madam Ouyang started calling Wei Ling as “Da Xiao Jie” or “employer’s eldest daughter” in Mandarin. But she told the maid: “It’s my father who’s the prime minister, not me. So please address me by my name.”

So Why Don’t Sue?

There had been a lot of accusations directed at Hsien Loong especially by Hsien Yang. People in the streets asked ‘Is Hsien Yang right? Why don’t Hsien Loong sue if defamatory?’ 

Put yourself in his shoes. As the big brother, in spite of the differences, they are after all…his own siblings, his own flesh and blood. The Lee siblings have been brought up right. At this time, only one Lee is the sensible one. The true son of Lee Kuan Yew knows that Blood is Thicker Than Water. I’ll like to believe that deep down, he hopes for reconciliation with his brother and sister. As they say in Spanish, We are Familia.

Jude D. 

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