How international media are covering the Lee household saga

Give award to Financial Times for Lee Hsien Yang quote.

By Belmont Lay | June 14, 2017

While the Singapore media were second to publish the breaking news story about the Lee household saga, the international media has gone into overdrive dissecting and making sense of it all for a global audience.

Characterising the curiously public spat as an “open feud”, “rare feud”, “family rift” and “lengthy tussle”, the Lee household has been labelled the “First Family of Singapore” in some publications, while others are trying to explain who Lee Hsien Yang is and the significance of the remarks his son made.

For Singaporeans, it is yet another way to put ourselves in the shoes of others, as we read international publications to see how outsiders see us.

Here are how six international publications that have reported on the ongoing Lee household saga:

1. Financial Times:

FT even managed to get a quote from Lee Hsien Yang, even as the local Straits Times could not:

“I am not an anti-establishment, opposition figure. I have a long record of public service. It is heart wrenching for me to leave this country. It is not something I would do lightly.”

FT also quoted an academic who pointed out the third generation from the illustrious Lee family has surfaced publicly now.


2. Washington Post ran an Associated Press story:

The story has been framed as the culmination of a legal battle:

A lengthy tussle heated up Wednesday between Singapore’s prime minister and his siblings over the last wishes of their father, the founding leader of the city-state.


3. CNBC:

The most pedestrian of the lot, citing the “deep divisions” in the Lee household, characterised as the First Family of Singapore:

A rare feud between Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings has publicized the deep divisions weighing on the island-nation’s first family.

4. South China Morning Post:

The article immediately opens with mention of shadowy state apparatuses:

An open feud among the family of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong deepened on Wednesday after the premier’s two younger siblings said they feared for their safety because they felt their elder brother was using state organs to harass them.


5. Bloomberg:

Even though it is a business publication, Bloomberg subsumed Lee Hsien Yang, a business leader, under the title, “Singapore Premier Lee’s brother:

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s younger brother Lee Hsien Yang said on Wednesday he feels “compelled” to leave the city state amid a family dispute since their father’s death two years ago.


6. Quartz:

The issue is framed as family fighting over property:

A patriarch dies, the family mourns, and then promptly fights over the house. That’s what’s happening in Singapore, only the patriarch was the architect of the nation.

The reference to “Ozymandias” is to point out the theme that leaders and their legacies will not be immune to the ravages of time.

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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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