How the saga unfolded

Dr Lee Wei Ling (wearing black), the younger sister of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, walking alongside family members at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral in March last year.
Dr Lee Wei Ling (wearing black), the younger sister of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, walking alongside family members at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral in March last year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


Dr Lee Wei Ling submits her column to The Straits Times on what she considered "hero-worshipping" of her father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.


Straits Times associate editor Ivan Fernandez replies to Dr Lee with the edited version of her column. She replies via e-mail: "Reads well. But I want to wait until the day unfolds completely."



Dr Lee submits another version of her column with substantial additions and insists on this version being run unedited. Mr Fernandez turns down the amended version, which has repeated references to China, and Dr Lee posts it on her Facebook page.


Dr Lee announces on Facebook that she will "no longer write for SPH as the editors there do not allow me freedom of speech". She says this was the reason she posted the article on her father online.


Dr Lee follows up with a post about how former editor-in-chief of The Straits Times, Mr Cheong Yip Seng, was "scolded" by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over a book he wrote, titled OB Markers. She talks about this to bolster her case about the lack of freedom of speech, even though Mr Cheong had denied "being scolded" when she asked him about it.


Dr Lee says she had a "love-hate relationship" with the three editors at The Straits Times who worked with her on her columns over the years. She says they must have been "commanded to edit certain issues out" of her columns.


Mr Janadas Devan, who edited Dr Lee's columns when he was an associate editor of The Straits Times, points out that Dr Lee had continued writing for the paper over a period of 10 years. He says "it beggars belief that she now presents herself as someone who was suppressed and silenced".


The Straits Times editor, in a note in the paper's Forum page, says Dr Lee's claims about being censored were unfounded.

"This is not an issue of freedom of expression, but a matter of upholding standards," he says, noting that all newspapers require writers to work with editors to get columns fit for print. He adds that Dr Lee's demand that her latest column be published unedited or she would go online "was simply not acceptable".


Dr Lee posts her column online again, this time highlighting what she says her editor considered "irrelevant".


Mr Ivan Fernandez, who edited her column, writes a detailed explanation of why the paper refused to publish it.

He says he found parts that made repeated references to China distracting from her main point. He had also found that almost three-quarters of the parts that she added had been plagiarised from websites.


Dr Lee makes public an e-mail exchange she had with Mr Fernandez. In one of the e-mails, she accused PM Lee of abusing his power over the commemorations in order to "establish a dynasty". PM Lee replies a few hours later in a Facebook post saying the accusations are "completely untrue". He says he is "deeply saddened" by the accusations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'How the saga unfolded'. Print Edition | Subscribe