Thu, Oct 18, 2007 - Page 1 News List

`Financial Times' offers apology to Singapore's Lees

AGENCIES , SINGAPORE

London's Financial Times apologized yesterday to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) and his father, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), after the paper said it implied the prime minister got his position with the elder Lee's help.

In a published apology yesterday, the newspaper said its Sept. 29 article, entitled "Sovereign funds try to put on an acceptable face," implied Lee Kuan Yew was instrumental in securing his son's appointment as prime minister.

"We admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation," the newspaper said.

The Financial Times, owned by publisher Pearson, said it had agreed to pay damages to compensate the Lees and Lee Hsien Loong's wife, Ho Ching (何晶), the head of state investment fund Temasek. The amount of damages was not specified.

Singaporean leaders have threatened or taken legal action against and won apologies and damages from many foreign media organizations in the past when they reported on local politics, including the Economist, the International Herald Tribune and Bloomberg.

In a speech to the International Bar Association annual meeting in Singapore on Sunday night, Lee Kuan Yew said: "We are often accused of suing people for defamation."

But he said Singapore was built on the rule of law and did not tolerate corruption, in contrast to the surrounding region where "money politics" was a way of life.

This means defamation action may be taken against those who impute dishonesty to government officials, in order to clear any doubts, he said.

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