Lee Hsien Yang would consider running for S'pore President: Bloomberg

Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern are reportedly living in Europe.

Matthias Ang | March 03, 2023, 07:53 PM

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Lee Hsien Yang would consider running for the position of Singapore's President, Bloomberg reported.

Speaking to Bloomberg by phone, he was quoted as saying:

"There is a view that depending on who they (referring to the People's Action Party) float, if I were to run they would be in serious trouble and could lose.

A lot of people have come to me. They really want me to run. It’s something I would consider."

The presidency of Singapore is a non-partisan position, and under the Constitution, a candidate must not be a member of any political party on the date of their nomination for election.

Ongoing investigation

Lee Hsien Yang, son of former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, is the younger brother of Singapore's current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Lee gave his remarks following a written Parliamentary reply by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Mar. 2, in which the minister said that Lee and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, are being investigated by the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

According to Teo, who was chair of the Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road, the investigation pertains to potential offences of giving false evidence in judicial proceedings over Lee Kuan Yew's will.

Teo said that the investigations came after a Court of Three Judges and a Disciplinary Tribunal found that the couple had lied under oath in November 2020 and February 2020.

The minister added that the police had requested an interview with the couple as part of the investigations.

The couple initially agreed to attend the interview but had a change of heart and refused to attend, which Teo said was "disappointing."

Living in Europe

Teo said that Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Suet Fern maintain their innocence, the investigation will give them a chance to vindicate themselves.

"They should participate, take the full opportunity to give their side of the story and clear their names," Teo said.

Teo also said that the police had advised them to reconsider participating in investigations, but they have since left Singapore and remain out of the country.

The police also informed them that the necessary steps would be taken to complete the investigations in their absence.

Bloomberg further reported that Lee and his wife have been living at an unspecified location in Europe for several months in "self-imposed exile".

Lee added that he was unsure of his chances of returning to Singapore "in the foreseeable future" with the ongoing investigation.

Calvin Cheng: Lee Hsien Yang does not qualify

In response to the Bloomberg article, former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng uploaded a Facebook post in which he said that Lee does not qualify to be a Presidential candidate.

According to Cheng, there is an outstanding investigation against Lee, which he should return to Singapore to assist in, if he wants to make it in time for the Presidential elections.

In addition, even without the investigations, the Court of Three Judges used "very strong words" against Lee such as "downright dishonest."

Cheng noted that according to Singapore's constitution, the Presidential Elections Committee needs to be satisfied that the candidate is of good character and integrity.

He then gave the following take:

"There is NO WAY that they will let someone the Court of Three Judges called ‘Downright Dishonest’ run.

Mr Lee HY is a smart man. He knows this.

I fully expect him to announce he will run, because he knows he doesn’t qualify anyway.

But it will cause maximum political damage to the Government by announcing he is interested, applying, and then being told he doesn’t qualify."

Cheng added: "If Mr Lee HY truly cares about the Singapore his father built, come back, face the courts and if found innocent, run for political office instead, like he teased he would in 2020."

'S'pore does not need another Lee': Lee Hsien Yang during GE 2020

This is not the first time Lee Hsien Yang has considered running for public office.

In 2020, he joined opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP) and gave the impression that he might contest at Tanjong Pagar GRC. Tanjong Pagar GRC was the constituency that the late Lee Kuan Yew represented.

Lee Hsien Yang then explained that he chose not to stand for political office "because I believe Singapore does not need another Lee".

He explained that he had grown up in "a family at the centre of Singapore politics", and said that it would have been "natural" for him to enter the fray.

However, Lee Hsien Yang said, "Singapore needs to be much more than about one family or one man".

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Top screenshot via Lee Hsien Yang/Facebook