SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said taking legal action against his younger siblings "cannot be my preferred choice", as doing so would further besmirch their parents' names and prolong the dispute.
He said this in his ministerial statement on Monday (July 3) to address accusations by Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang that he had abused his power in relation to their late father's wishes for the family home at 38 Oxley Road.
Addressing the House, PM Lee said many people have asked why he has not challenged the validity of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will in court, sued his siblings for defamation, or taken some other legal action to end the dispute and clear his name.
"In normal circumstances, in fact, in any other imaginable circumstance than this, I would surely sue," he said, adding that their allegation of abuse of power, while baseless, is a "very grave attack" not just on him but the whole Government.
PM Lee said he believes he has a strong case, after taking advice and considering his options very carefully.
"But suing my own brother and sister in court would further besmirch our parents' names," he said. "At the end of the day, we are brothers and sister, and we are all our parents' children."
He also noted that legal action would drag out the process for years, and "cause more distraction and distress to Singaporeans".
"Therefore, fighting this out in court cannot be my preferred choice," he said.
The bitter feud had exploded onto the public domain on June 14, when the two younger siblings posted on social media a six-page statement accusing PM Lee of abusing his power to thwart their father's wishes for his house at 38 Oxley Road to be demolished.
They also accused him of wanting to preserve the house to further his political agenda and that of his wife Ho Ching.
They also said they lost confidence in his leadership and feared the use of state organs against them, adding that they feel compelled to leave the country, saying they are being closely monitored.
While family disputes do happen, every family will understand these are not matters to flaunt in public, PM Lee said.
That is why he has done his best to deal with it out of the public eye, for instance by keeping his submissions to the ministerial committee private.
But he said he had no choice but to defend himself and release a statement when his siblings accused him in public.
"I stand by the statements I have published but I really don't want to go further if I can help it," PM Lee said.