Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s defamation trial against news editor Terry Xu over an article related to the Lee sibling feud began at the high court this morning.
The trial gets underway a year after the prime minister sued The Online Citizen Asia’s website over an article that laid out high-level family drama Lee says was false. Both Lee and Xu are expected to appear in court in front of Justice Audrey Lim in what could prove a dramatic confrontation between Lee and his younger brother, should Lee Hsien Yang also take the stand. Their sister, Lee Wei Ling, might also testify in the trial.
Public interest in their dirty laundry spilling into a courtroom was apparent in the long line of people seen outside the supreme court this morning, according to a photo shared online by The Online Citizen Asia. It’s only one of two defamation cases brought by the prime minister; another involving blogger Leong Sze Hian will be heard later today in another courtroom.
Busy day at the Supreme Court. News editor Terry Xu and lawyers Lim Tean and Davinder Singh were spotted earlier leaving the court.
— Coconuts Singapore (@CoconutsSG) November 30, 2020
The trial against Xu began a year after Lee filed the lawsuit against the website after it failed to take down an article titled PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members. Lee said the article repeated false allegations made by his siblings, including that Lee had “misled” his father, late Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew, into changing the elder Lee’s mind about demolishing his home at 38 Oxley Road following his death.
The article Xu published on his site recounting the Lee family feud was based on a Facebook post by Lee’s garrulous and eccentric wife Ho Ching about why it was OK to cut ties with toxic family members.
Lee’s siblings went public with their family feud in 2017, insisting their late father had wished for his home to be demolished. It was not. The prime minister responded at the time by saying in Parliament that he didn’t sue his siblings to save the family name from further tarnishing, although he vowed to take legal action if necessary.