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31
Mar 10
Wed

Imply nepotism, get sued

The New York Times has paid  S$160,000 to settle a suit after Lee Kwan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong, and Goh Chok Tong threatened to sue it.

Last month, The Herald Tribune, wholly owned by the Times Company, published a column by Philip Bowring that referred to “dynastic politics” and listed the leaders of many countries, including Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, a former prime minister.

The implication of nepotism did not please the Lees, and they went down the familiar route of threatening to sue – for libel, I’m guessing.

There is a bit of history behind this matter, reaching back to a similar incident in in 1994. Above the Law has a good summary of the event.

The Singaporean government obviously hasn’t lost its touchiness about being criticised. Given how long Singapore has been a developed economy, I wouldn’t hold out for China changing its current stance on censorship and free speech in a hurry. There’s no guarantee that economic development will mean a shift towards western socio-political values.

Sidenote: The three elder statesmen were represented by Davinder Singh SC. The last time I was in Singapore, I was told that he is a barrister that people have nicknamed the “Nuclear Weapon”. Incidentally, Wikipedia mentions that Singh won the Jessup in 1992, and all his teammates are now judges and/or SCs.

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