Singapore PM’s estranged brother directed to correct critical Facebook post on rented bungalows to ministers: Report

Singapore, July 25: Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has been directed by the law ministry to correct his critical comments on Facebook about the state-owned bungalows rented by two Indian-origin ministers as well as the inflated circulation numbers by Singapore Press Holdings, a media report said on Tuesday.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), the second son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, will be required to carry a correction notice on his Facebook post stating that it contains false statement of facts, and include a link to the government’s clarification, Channel News Asia reported.
On July 23, Lee, 65, alleged in his Facebook post that the state paid for the renovations of the two Ridout Road bungalows because they were leased by Law and Home Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, both from the ruling People’s Action Party.
Lee’s Facebook post on July 23 contained untrue statements, the Ministry of Law said in a media release on Tuesday.
“The identity of the tenants had no bearing on the decision on the works to be carried out on the properties,” the report said, quoting the law ministry.
“The post omits important information that the works done were in keeping with the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) practice, and were assessed to be necessary in the circumstances, as explained by Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong in parliament on July 3, 2023,” the report added.
SLA, which comes under the Ministry of Law, is responsible for maintaining conserved state properties, which include the two bungalows rented by the two ministers.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), tasked to investigate whether there was any misconduct related to the transactions on the two bungalows, found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or preferential treatment given to the two ministers.
In his Jul 23 Facebook post, Lee also wrote that SPH Media Trust fraudulently inflated its circulation numbers, referring to the company as an entity being given “taxpayers monies”.
This is untrue as the incident happened when the media business was still under SPH Limited – a listed company – and before SPH Media Trust was incorporated, said the Ministry.
SPH Media publishes titles like The Straits Times, The Business Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu.
“When SPH Media Trust took over SPH Limited’s media business, it discovered, reported, and investigated the circulation issue,” said the law ministry.
It added that the government’s funding agreement to build up public service capabilities was signed with SPH Media Trust and not SPH Limited.
The funding quantum was also based on SPH Media Trust’s information needs and not the circulation numbers, the ministry pointed out.
POFMA is issued to correct misinformation which is usually posted on social media by parties not agreeing argumentatively to the government policies or points.
The younger Lee’s relationship with Prime Minister Lee, 71, is strained over family-related issues. (PTI)