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Monday, July 29, 2019, 16:07
Singapore PM's brother backs opposition party in election twist
By Reuters
Monday, July 29, 2019, 16:07 By Reuters

Lee Hsien Yang, younger brother of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, leaves the Supreme court in Singapore, April 10, 2017. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore prime minister's estranged brother has thrown his support behind a newly-formed opposition party in an intriguing twist ahead of a general election expected to be held as soon as this year. 

Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post that the ruling People's Action Party had "lost its way" and that he "wholeheartedly" supports the principles and values of the newly-formed Progress Singapore Party

In Facebook comments made late Sunday, Lee Hsien Yang said the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) - led by his brother Lee Hsien Loong and founded by his father Lee Kuan Yew - had "lost its way". 

His comments come amid a bitter feud with his brother over what to do with their late father's house, and an election which some analysts say could be months away and must be held by early 2021 at the latest. 

"I wholeheartedly support the principles and values of the Progress Singapore Party," Lee Hsien Yang said in the post. 

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"Today's PAP is no longer the PAP of my father. It has lost its way." 

The PAP - which has ruled Singapore since its independence over half a century ago and never seen its vote share drop below 60% - did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The newly-formed Progress Singapore Party is led by Tan Cheng Bock, a former PAP lawmaker who shot to prominence by nearly defeating a candidate backed by PM Lee in the 2011 presidential race. 

READ MORE: Ex-S'pore presidential candidate plans new opposition party

PM Lee, 67, has said he will step down by the time he is 70. 

It is not yet clear whether his younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, plans to enter politics. At the PSP party launch on Friday, Tan said Lee Hsien Yang would be welcome to join his party but on their terms and not for any personal agenda. 

Analysts were uncertain over what impact the PSP and the younger Lee might have in upcoming elections. 

Singapore is unlikely to experience a seismic political shift like the one seen last year in neighboring Malaysia, where a party that had led every post-colonial government suffered an election defeat. 

The PAP currently holds all but six of 89 elected seats in parliament. 

The PSP may only further splinter the opposition vote, according to Garry Rodan, a professor at Australia's Murdoch University focused on Singapore politics. 

But Michael Barr of Flinders University in Adelaide said if Lee Hsien Yang does decide to stand in the election, a "Lee vs Lee" tussle could be a "game changer". 

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