ST's decision not to publish Lee Wei Ling's commentary escalates into family feud

And suddenly, it appears that "HL" (or is it the "LHL" we know?) has been dragged into the picture.

Martino Tan | April 10, 2016, 02:59 PM

Editor's note at 6:00 pm, Apr 10: PM Lee Hsien Loong has responded to Dr Lee Wei Ling's Facebook post (which has since been taken down) and said that accusations that he abused his "power to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Lee Kuan Yew’s passing in order to establish a dynasty" are completely untrue. PM Lee's response is shared further below in this article. 

We have also made changes to point 2 of this article.


It has come to this.

Lee Wei Ling (LWL), who is currently engaging in an ongoing feud with the editors of The Straits Times, have disclosed the exchange of emails that transpired between them.

The exchange of emails reveal the following:


1. She used "dishonourable" to describe someone

In one of the most startling revelations, LWL described that she and someone called "HL", are at odds "on a matter of principle", and in this regard, pertaining to the one-year death anniversary of their father and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

She even claimed that "HL has no qualms abusing his power to hv a commemoration just one year after LKY died" even though, in her own words, Lee Kuan Yew's death last year was "so vivid, no one will forget it in one year."

She ended the email with this:

"But if the power that be wants to establish a dynasty, LKY's daughter will not allow LKY's name to be sullied by a dishonourable son."

Who is "HL"? Is HL who we think she is referring to?


2. LWL accused SPH of being controlled by the government

"The powers that be commands SPH, and no one in SPH dares to stand up to the powers that be to say, 'you cannot abuse your power.'"

2. LWL alleged that PM Lee had too much say in commemorating Lee Kuan Yew's one-year anniversary passing.

"HL has no qualms abusing his power to hv a commemoration just one year after LKY died"

3. Blogging vs Publishing

After LWL threatened to blog her story if ST didn't publish the article unedited, her editor, Ivan Fernandez, explained the difference between blogging and publishing.

"Blogging is a personal activity. I don't see any issue in what you choose to blog about. Publishing, of course, carries joint responsibilities (legal, etc).

Certainly, it's not fair to any organisation to expect it to publish one version of a column and to then put an "unedited" version online."


4. Ivan Fernandez didn't think blogging means posting the story on Facebook.

With all the talk about blogging, Fernandez was clearly taken aback with the publication of the story on Facebook.

"You had already posted it on FB but I had no inkling from below."

i have posted the entire email chain of exchanges between me and my SPH editor. he did notice my quotation of how PRC...

Posted by Lee Wei Ling on Saturday, April 9, 2016


5. Ivan Fernandez CC-ed the email to SPH's bigwigs Patrick Daniel, Warren Fernandez and Han Fook Kwang.

From: Ivan Fernandez [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Monday, March 28, 2016 5:26 PM

To: Lee Wei Ling

Cc: Patrick Daniel; Warren Fernandez; Han Fook Kwang

Subject: Fw: Lee Kuan Yew would have been distressed by the hero-worship at one year anniversary following his death (final draft, 1339 words)

For your info, Patrick Daniel is the editor-in-chief, Han Fook Kwang is the Editor-At-Large, and Warren Fernandez is the editor.

The exchange of emails raised a few questions:

1. Has anyone cared enough to ask LWL about her emotional state?

LWL has been posting a number of FB posts and quite a number of them are more emotionally charged than her widely known commentaries in the ST.

From the exchange, it appears like LWL is acting like someone who is unhappy because she did not get her way.

If you read the full email exchanges between LWL and Ivan Fernandez, this is the sense that you will get: Ivan is being quite professional, while LWL is the one who is being uncooperative.

Here is an example:

Ivan Fernandez: Noted, Wei Ling. On blogging, my view is that there's no problem in regular columnists to write about any subject they choose. That's what I meant by "no issue". But it would defy logic for two versions of a published column to be put in the public domain.

LWL: Fine. I had told u, I want the draft in my final form out as I wrote it, and am willing to not hv it


2. Will Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong respond to his sister's criticisms?

If "HL" is who we think LWL is referring to, it is probably the first time that someone has criticised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a "dishonorable son".

It is also very unfortunate that it was his younger sister who did so.

Much as we would have preferred that LWL conduct her disagreement within the family and not in the public, does PM Lee see the need to clarify with the public on the issue?

Edit at 6:00 pm, Apr 10: PM Lee's response is below:

I am deeply saddened by my sister Dr Lee Wei Ling’s claim that I have abused my power to commemorate the one-year...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, 10 April 2016

Related articles:

Round Three: Straits Times editor claims Lee Wei Ling plagiarised whole paragraphs for her unpublished commentary

Round Two: The salt is very real between Lee Wei Ling and Janadas Devan in latest exchange

Round One: Online spat between Chief of Govt Communications & LKY’s daughter about LKY’s blurb on book

Lee Wei Ling reveals what ST wanted to take out from her ‘hero worship’ commentary

Top photo from National Archives of Singapore.

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