Brother of former Singapore PM ordered to pay $296,000 in defamation suit

FILE PHOTO: Lee Hsien Yang

By Xinghui Kok

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -The brother of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been ordered by a court to pay S$400,000 ($296,000) to two government ministers in a defamation suit, according to a written judgment published on Friday.

Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged younger brother of the former prime minister, made defamatory allegations against the two ministers "of the gravest kind", wrote Justice Goh Yihan.

The allegations "go towards their personal integrity, professional reputation, honour, and core attributes of their personalities", wrote the judge.

The younger Lee, once chief executive of telecoms company Singtel, was ordered by the government in July 2023 to correct a Facebook post the law ministry said contained falsehoods about a controversy over the two cabinet ministers renting state properties.

The government had in June 2023 cleared the two ministers of wrongdoing, saying there was no evidence to suggest abuse of position for personal gain.

The judge said Lee did not apologise or remove the post despite being given an opportunity to do so by the ministers, instead "doubled down" in another post saying he stood by what he said.

The court awarded S$150,000 in general damages and S$50,000 in aggravated damages to each minister, according to the reports.

"The facts are the facts," Lee said on messaging app WhatsApp. "The two ministers claim to have wanted to clear their names yet declined offers to take this to a London court or an independent international tribunal."

Lee, 66, has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with his older brother over a house owned by their late father and modern Singapore's founder, Lee Kuan Yew.

The frayed relationship has played out publicly with the younger Lee aligning himself with an opposition party during the 2020 election and last year saying he was considering running for the Singapore presidency.

Lee Hsien Loong, 72, last week handed over the reins to Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in the city state's first leadership transition in 20 years.


(Reporting by Xinghui Kok; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Clarence Fernandez)