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Lee Hsien Yang’s family absent from Emeritus Prof Lim’s funeral amidst state prosecution

Singapore is mourning the passing of the esteemed economist and wage policy pioneer, Emeritus Professor Lim Chong Yah, who passed away on the morning of July 8 at the age of 91.

Born to a shopkeeper father in Malacca, Prof Lim’s life journey took him from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of Singapore’s academic and economic world, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s development.

He served as the chairman of the National Wages Council for 29 years, contributing significantly to Singapore’s economic progress.

Furthermore, he held the title of Emeritus Professor at both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the highest academic accolade.

Beyond his remarkable contributions to wage policies, Prof Lim played a crucial role in establishing the Skills Development Fund Advisory Council, aimed at training workers for Singapore’s evolving economy.

His efforts were pivotal in transitioning the nation from labour-intensive, low-paying jobs to roles of higher economic value.

Prof Lim is survived by two daughters and two sons. His eldest child, Lee Suet Fern, a prominent lawyer, is married to Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY), the younger son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

Regrettably, the LHY family, embroiled in a state prosecution related to a longstanding family dispute, could not return to Singapore to attend Prof Lim’s funeral.

LHY and his family have been caught up in a dispute over the fate of the 38 Oxley property following the passing of their father, Lee Kuan Yew, in 2015.

This dispute has led to several legal actions from the Attorney General’s Chambers, resulting in the conviction of LHY’s son, Li Shengwu, and the suspension of LSF from her legal practice.

In a heartfelt social media post, LHY shared a picture from his wedding day with his late father-in-law, expressing his deep sorrow and regret at not being able to be present to bid him farewell.

“This photo was taken of my wife and my father-in-law at our wedding 42 years ago. My family and I love him and miss him dearly. My wife, I, and Shengwu wish we were there to say goodbye,” LHY wrote.

A photo of a wreath featured a card from the family that read, “With our abiding love, we are heartbroken.”

On 7 March, LHY posted on his Facebook, “I am heartbroken that my own country has made me a fugitive for standing up for my father’s promise, Lee Kuan Yew.”

This follows a recent spate of attacks against LHY by the Singapore machinery, including the government and media, after Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean, announced in a parliamentary reply that the Police are investigating LHY and his wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern (LSF), for potential offences of giving false evidence in judicial proceedings.

LHY had expressed his interest in running for the presidency, but due to the ongoing investigation, he has expressed doubts about his ability to return to Singapore in the foreseeable future.

LHY expressed disappointment with Singapore’s system of checks and balances, stating that he and his sister had initially believed in the rule of law in 2017 when they issued their public statement but had since learned otherwise.

He accused his elder brother of misusing state resources to pursue a private agenda and called for leaders who prioritise the country’s needs over their own interests. These allegations were vigorously denied by the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, in a parliamentary session following the publication of the statement from the two siblings.

Following the death of Prof Lim, the family has received heartfelt messages of support from the community.

The Secretary General of Red Dot United, Ravi Philemon, wrote a condolence message expressing empathy and extending support to the family during this difficult time, “I cannot fathom the depth of pain and loss you must be experiencing, especially considering the challenging circumstances surrounding your ability to return to Singapore.”

“Earlier this year, I read with great concern hints from your husband, Lee Hsien Yang, about potentially never returning to Singapore due to his fears of persecution. If this were also true for you, it would be incredibly sad.”

“Such a situation is undoubtedly a terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to you. As a parent myself, I can only imagine the profound sorrow and anguish of not being able to be with your loved ones during such a difficult time. The thought of being separated from my own daughter during my final moments is unbearable, and I empathise deeply with the pain you must be enduring,” wrote Mr Philemon.

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