This is a letter to the Economist on Devan Nair.
SIR – In your obituary you wrote “by Mr Nair's account, Mr Lee promised to crush him [J.B. Jeyaretnam], crying ‘I will make him crawl on his bended knees and beg for mercy.’ That image had haunted Mr Nair before, as the worst expression of arrogant colonialism” (“Devan Nair”, December 24th).
This and many other statements Mr Nair made after his bout of alcoholism in 1985 were unfounded. One statement he made in 1991 forced Mr Lee Kuan Yew to sue him and the Canadian Globe & Mail in Toronto. The matter was settled when Mr Nair's two sons issued this statement, reported in the Globe & Mail on July 1st 2004:
“Mr C.V. Devan Nair, aged 80, has been diagnosed as suffering from the beginning stages of dementia, an ailment which affects his memory. He is no longer able to give evidence in court proceedings.
“On March 29th 1999, the Globe & Mail published an article by Mr Marcus Gee. The article quoted Mr Nair as saying that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had Singapore government doctors slip hallucination drugs to Mr Nair to make him appear befuddled.
“Having reviewed the records, and on the basis of the family's knowledge of the circumstances leading to Mr Nair's resignation as president of Singapore in March 1985, we can declare that there is no basis for this allegation.”
Yeong Yoon Ying
Press secretary to Minister Mentor
Apology: We recognise that the statements attributed to Mr Lee in the obituary on Devan Nair and which are referred to in Mdm Yeong Yoon Ying’s letter above, are false. We apologise to Mr Lee for having published them, and we unreservedly withdraw them. We have agreed to pay Mr Lee damages and to indemnify him for all costs incurred by him in connection with this matter.
And the government scores the defamation goal again!