Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang said on Tuesday that he won't be contesting the July 10 general election, as the deadline for filing nomination passed. Candidates had to file their nomination for this year's election by 12 noon local time, and Yang's name was absent from the final candidates' list.
Yang had joined the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP) last week and speculation was rife that he would be contesting this year's election. The two brothers have been embroiled in a bitter spat for years over their family house that was built by their father.
Decision in Line with Son's Principles
There was an initial excitement on Tuesday morning after Yang reached a nomination center for the district of Tanjong Pagar, the constituency once held by his late father Lee Kuan Yew. However, he didn't file for candidacy till noon and left the centre after a while.
Later, Yang confirmed that he won't be contesting this year's general election. "I have chosen not to stand for political office because I believe Singapore does not need another Lee," he said in a Facebook post after the deadline for filing candidacy was over. "I do not seek power, prestige or financial rewards of political office. I hope to be a catalyst for change," added Yang.
Although the exact reason behind Yang not contesting the polls this year is still unknown, sources close to him say that his decision was in line with the principles of one of his sons, economics professor Li Shengwu, who believes that the country is always "bigger than one's family". Yang, however, has shown active interest in lending support to PSP since his membership was made official by the party's leader Tan Cheng Bock.
Yang to Continue Campaigning for PSP
The 62-year-old said that he will continue to campaign against the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), led by his elder brother Loong. Yang, a businessman, had earlier said that he was not interested in politics but surprised many by joining PSP last week.
Many had expected Yang to take the family feud to the political battlefield but that doesn't seem to be the scene now. The two brothers have been involved in a family dispute revolving around their father's house for years now. Yang also clarified that this year's election is not about the disputes with his elder brother. He, however, had earlier said that the PAP had "lost its way". PSP was formed last year by former PAP members who got disgruntled with the government and this will be the party's first election. PAP, on the other hand, has been ruling Singapore since independence in 1965.
Loong also made similar comments on Monday saying that the family disputes have nothing to do with the election, as Singapore's future lay at a critical juncture. The PSP, which is likely to retain power this time too, is expected to focus on Singapore's response to coronavirus outbreak and its economic fallout during the campaign, while most opposition parties will bring up issues like the increase in goods and service tax and retrenchment insurance.