38 Oxley Road Ceasefire Broken, But By Who?
The so-called ceasefire didn’t last long. On July 6, an apparent ceasefire to the 38 Oxley Road saga was called when Dr Lee Wei Ling (LWL) and Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) said they would stop presenting further evidence on social media.
Just 11 days later, it appears to have been breached — the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said in a statement on Monday (July 17) that it would be “looking into” a post on the Facebook profile of Mr Li Shengwu, the son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, made over the weekend.
This is despite the post being set to “Friends Only” — somehow, it got out to the public. Here’s the post that got the AGC in a tizzy.
Breach Of Ceasefire?
Mr Li basically shared an article from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on the 38 Oxley Road saga titled: “Singapore, a Model of Orderly Rule, Is Jolted by a Bitter Family Feud”.
He also aired some personal opinions of his own, calling the Singapore Government “litigious” and our court system “pliant”, and attached a link to a 2010 New York Times article.
Now were his comments negative, especially towards Singapore’s courts? One would probably think so.
But they were also his own personal opinions, made in a private post meant to be shared only with friends.
And they weren’t exactly related to the 38 Oxley Road saga either — just general, personal opinions of a private citizen on the government and courts, something a citizen should be entitled to make. Even a citizen that happens to be the grandson of late founding father Lee Kuan Yew and nephew of the Prime Minister.
However, he did share an article on the 38 Oxley Road saga, written by the foreign news media.
Could the post, taken in its entirety, constitute a breach of the ceasefire? Maybe.
But before we answer that question, we must remember that the ceasefire was started by LWL and LHY when they said they would stop presenting further evidence on social media. However:
- They never said that Li Shengwu would stop posting.
- Li Shengwu didn’t post any “evidence” on social media, he just shared a WSJ article and some opinions on the Government and court system.
However, the AGC decided to issue a statement anyway, saying it was aware of the post and it is looking into it, according to The Straits Times.
The AGC’s post statement was pretty short, so perhaps Senior Minister of State for Health and Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat felt that he had to share his own views on the subject.
Lianhe Zaobao, in an article on Monday (July 17), quoted Mr Chee as saying:
Is this respecting Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his values? I don’t understand why he continues to launch online attacks, after his father already said he was going to stop doing so.
Okay, we get that someone from the Government had to say something, but to call Mr Li’s post an “online attack” may just be pushing it.
Furthermore, the AGC’s statement and Mr Chee’s words prompted Mr Li to respond in a Facebook post on Monday, and this time, it was set to public.
In his post, he expressed “surprise” that his post set to “Friends Only” was “enough to trigger a response” from the AGC.
Reflecting the incredulity he must he felt at the turn of events, he also called the Singapore Government “petty” and added:
Would they also like to trawl my private Facebook feed for seditious vacation photos? 😉
Now, that’s more of an “online attack” for you — and it wasn’t unprompted, but came as a direct result of the AGC’s statement.
And of course, when one member of the “rebel” branch is attacked, others will rush to defend him, as it was proven when his aunt and father both shared his post after being silent since July 6.
His aunt then posted herself:
She also expressed surprise over the AGC’s statement, and asked:
Is there a government servant whose duty is to follow the Facebook activity of all people related to Hsien Yang and I, including our private musings.
She ended the short post by implying that the situation was an example of “big brother government”.
Looks like the ceasefire has been well and truly broken, but whose fault is it?
Is it the fault of Li Shengwu, who expressed his personal opinion in a private post?
Or is it the fault of the AGC and Mr Chee, who chose to make an issue out of Mr Li’s post, which would have gone largely unnoticed by the public otherwise?
Perhaps the Internet is to blame — the AGC may have had no other choice, as despite the post being set to “friends only”, a screenshot of it was being shared over Facebook, and it gained some attention. It may have reached a point where the AGC could no longer just ignore it and action had to be taken to protect the integrity of the courts.
Either way, we’ll keep an eye on developments to come.