A grandson of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s late founding father and ruler for more than three decades, said he left the city state in July after friends expressed concerns he might be detained by the authorities in a contempt of court case.
“In Singapore, it is possible that one can be detained and interrogated for some time without a lawyer,” said Li Shengwu, whose uncle is the nation’s current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in an interview with Reuters.
“My friends had warned me that they were concerned for my safety if I remained in Singapore.”
Li declined to identify his friends or disclose if they had specific information. Reuters has no independent evidence that Li Shengwu faced any threats to his safety.
The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Chang Li Lin said it was “not accurate” to make points about detention and interrogation. “This is a well-established legal process. Clear laws and procedures apply to all cases of contempt, including this case involving Mr Li,” Chang said. “The courts will decide on the merits of the case.”
Li departed from the city-state on July 23 to return to the United States, more than a week sooner than he planned. Two days earlier, the attorney general’s chambers in Singapore had sent him a letter demanding he issue an apology and purge a July 15 Facebook post in which he had said that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system.”
In that letter, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng said the post was “an egregious and baseless attack” on the Singapore legal system. He asked Li to sign a declaration that he had made false allegations, was in contempt of the judiciary, and to apologise unreservedly.
On Aug 4, the attorney general’s chambers began contempt of court proceedings against Li in Singapore’s High Court. This followed Li’s decision not to remove the post or apologise.