It all started when the Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) censured a publicly listed property development company called Hotel Property Ltd (HPL) for not seeking shareholders' approval for the sale of some of its condominium developments at discounted price. Dr Lee Suan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew's younger brother, was then on the board and had purchased a unit in Nassim Jade which was developed by Ong Beng Seng, Singapore property tycoon and Managing Director of HPL.
Following, Lee and his son, Lee Hsien Loong, publicly disclosed that they too had bought HPL condominium units. Other family members also shared similar interest in the HPL development. Daughter Lee Wei Ling, then medical doctor in a government hospital; sister Lee Kim Mon; two other brothers Freddy and Dennis; Kwa Kim Li, a niece of Lee; and Gloria Lee, Lee's sister-in-law, all bought condominium units at discounted prices.
When SES issued a statement censuring HPL for the breach of regulations, it noted that some of the discounts given to directors and their relatives in respect of the Nassim Jade units were higher than those given to non-related buyers and that the publicly listed companies have a duty to obtain the best price so as to maximise the return to its shareholders. Lee Suan Yew quietly resigned as a director with HPL.
The other victim of the fallout was Tang Liang Hong, who was taken to task for commenting on the issue in Asian Weekly Magazine (Yazhou Zhoukan):
"Why wasn’t this matter handed over to the professional body like Commercial Affairs Department or Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau? They are government departments not only rich in experience, but are also well-known for being "iron-faced with selfishness" [a Chinese phrase meaning firm and impartial]. They would be more detached and their reports would have been more convincing to the people. Koh Beng Seng and Finance Minister Richard Hu are after all not experts in this field."
According to his affidavit, Tang faced 13 defamation suits instituted against him, 3 of which brought by Lee ("SM Lee") solely, 2 by his son, ("DPM Lee"), and a further 2 by SM Lee and DPM Lee jointly. That has to be an Olympic record of sorts. No foreign nationals from PRC were involved.