Lee Hsien Yang says Shanmugam, Vivian wrong to accuse him of making false allegations over Ridout Rd
Mr Lee Hsien Yang said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan are wrong to accuse him of making false allegations.
In his first public comments since the two ministers sent him a lawyer’s letter, Mr Lee – the younger son of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – said in a Facebook post on Saturday that he was simply stating the facts.
Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan on Thursday said they will sue Mr Lee Hsien Yang for defamation if he does not apologise for making false allegations.
On July 23, in a Facebook post saying that recent political affairs had shattered trust in the People’s Action Party, Mr Lee said the two ministers had leased state-owned mansions from an agency that one of them controlled, felled trees and received state-sponsored renovations.
He was referring to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which is a statutory board that comes under the Ministry of Law, which Mr Shanmugam oversees.
On Saturday, Mr Lee said: “My post did not assert that Shanmugam and V. Balakrishnan acted corruptly or for personal gain by having SLA give them preferential treatment by illegally felling trees without approval and also having SLA pay for renovations for them.
“My post simply stated facts that were already widely published in the Singapore and international media.”
Mr Shanmugam said in a Facebook post on Thursday evening that he and Dr Balakrishnan had sent lawyers’ letters to Mr Lee earlier that day.
Said Mr Shanmugam: “Lee Hsien Yang has accused us of acting corruptly and for personal gain by having Singapore Land Authority give us preferential treatment by illegally felling trees without approval, and also having SLA pay for renovations to 26 and 31 Ridout Road. These allegations are false.”
He added that the two ministers had asked Mr Lee to apologise, withdraw his allegations and pay damages, which will be donated to charity.
“If he does not do so, we will sue him,” Mr Shanmugam said.
Mr Lee said he put up his latest Facebook post while in the United Kingdom.
He added: “If K. Shanmugam and V. Balakrishnan believe that they have a real case, then they should sue me in the UK.”
On Tuesday, Mr Lee was given a correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).
The Law Ministry, in a statement issued on the same day, said Mr Lee’s Facebook post on the Ridout Road saga had made three untrue statements.
These included the assertion that the state had paid for the renovations to 26 and 31 Ridout Road because the properties were leased by the two ministers, and that trees at the two properties were allowed to be felled because the properties were leased by them. The third statement was about SPH Media Trust.
Mr Lee put up the correction notice on Tuesday night, but put up a new post calling the Pofma notice misleading and saying he stood by what he had said.