ELSON: In parliament yesterday, Law and Home Affairs Minister repeatedly used the word “abscond” to describe the departure of Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Suet Fern from Singapore.
The pair were asked by police to assist in investigations into a case involving them, decided that they did not want to talk to the police, and left the country.
Naturally, state media has had a field day painting the brother and sister-in-law of prime minister Lee Hsien Loong as outlaws.
But the Lee couple were never formally charged for any offence – as far as what has been disclosed in parliament.
They were also not issued an order under the Criminal Procedure Code directing them to attend police interviews.
Rather, they were invited by means of email by the police to help with investigations and they said “no”.
So, they had no obligation to assist the police? Then why make it seem like they did?
Shanmugam said investigations had been going on since Oct 2021, and that police investigators sent this email invite “in good faith”.
No one thought that the affluence of the Lee couple, with their overseas properties and their globe-trotting children, would be considered a flight risk?
It’s not as though the Lees hid in a lorry or chartered a sampan to escape Singapore.
For such high profile “accused” persons to simply get on a plane and leave, it seems more like “bad faith” and profound naivete on the part of the police?
And then, why Shanmugam’s harsh “abscond” brush?
To highlight the point that police usually disclose the names of those who have “absconded” when they are being investigated, Shanmugam painted the Lee couple in the same stroke as criminal couple Pi Jiapeng and Pansuk Siriwipa.
And another criminal Karl Liew notorious for his role in the Parti Liyani case.
Pi and Pansuk faced fraud charges when they fled Singapore in a container compartment of a lorry.
Liew was charged for giving false evidence and information to the police.
The Lee’s? Again – not charged and not even given an order under the CPC to cooperate with investigators.
But apparently, the Lee couple’s offence is so grave, they are wanted so much by the police even though they have yet to be charged, and their leaving Singapore is of such significant public interest that it must be reported in parliament.
Why not charge them and issue arrest warrants already?
At least the Singaporean public can finally and appropriately dub them as “fugitives”.
Dad would be proud.