Skip to main content
Best News Website or Mobile Service
WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Worldwide 2022
Best News Website or Mobile Service
Digital Media Awards Worldwide 2022
Hamburger Menu




Father says son who killed himself after sexual allegations would be alive if given chance to speak

Mr Lawrence Li See Kit is suing the Debate Association (Singapore) for unspecified damages, after his son Lucas Li Guangsheng killed himself following sexual misconduct allegations by the association.

Father says son who killed himself after sexual allegations would be alive if given chance to speak

Lucas Li died by suicide on Aug 8, 2018. (Photo: Facebook/Tributes to Lucas Li)

SINGAPORE: The father of a man who killed himself after being accused of sexual misconduct told a court on Tuesday (Nov 8) that he is sure his son would still be alive, had he been given a chance to speak.

Mr Lawrence Li See Kit is suing the Debate Association (Singapore), where his son Lucas Li Guangsheng used to be a programme director, for unspecified damages.

Lucas took his own life aged 31 on Aug 8, 2018. He was a Government scholar employed by statutory board Enterprise Singapore at the time.

This was a day after the association published a statement on its website, Facebook page and the Facebook page of the Singapore Debaters Facebook group. 

Without naming Lucas, the association's executive committee (EXCO) said it had decided to permanently ban a member from all events on the basis that he had behaved inappropriately in his capacity as a former director of the debate development initiative (DDI).

Lucas had founded this debate training programme for young debaters in 2012. The statement alleged that Lucas had behaved inappropriately, creating a WhatsApp chat group where DDI programme participants engaged in discussions of a sexual nature.

The statement further alleged that a member of this chat group complained that Lucas had shared explicit photos of himself in a private chat which "culminated in a physical sexual encounter" between Lucas and the member in 2014.

After his death, Lucas' father sued the Debate Association (Singapore), claiming negligence in the way they handled investigations and published allegations against Lucas.

He also alleges that their actions led to Lucas' suicide, when the association and its members knew of Lucas' mental condition and risk of suicide.

Mr Li, who is represented by lawyer Paul Ong, claims that the association did not give Lucas a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations of misconduct. 

The EXCO appointed auditors to conduct an independent audit of the DDI programme, but Mr Li said these auditors were active members of the debate community who knew Lucas and were not in a position to conduct an independent, fair and impartial investigation against him, Mr Li claims.

The trial opened on Tuesday, with Mr Li taking the stand. Referring to the audit of the DDI programme, he said there could not have been fairness since the auditors were not independent or neutral.

He said he felt that the auditors did not follow protocol during their probe.

"Why should there be hidden questions and not being upfront to the interviewee?" he asked.

He reasserted his stance that his son's mental condition was known by members of the association at the time. He said his son posted about his condition on his Facebook page.

Lucas suffered from cyclothymia, a mental disorder that involves periods of depression and mood swings, and he was a patient at the Institute of Mental Health from October 2017, where he was treated for having suicidal tendencies.

Mr Li said he believed that Lucas would still be alive today, if the debate association had acted properly and treated him with the respect Lucas deserved.

When asked if this included giving Lucas a chance to respond, Mr Li said: "Yes. If they had done so, I don't think we would be here today."

"So if Lucas had been given a chance to respond, he would still be alive?" asked opposing counsel Darren Tan for the Debate Association (Singapore).


"I'm sure," replied Mr Li.

Mr Tan pressed Mr Li: "Even if the allegations against (Lucas) were true, he would still be able to take it?"

"I'm sure," replied Mr Li. "As long as he was given a chance to (give) his side of the story. It doesn't matter whether it's false, it's true. The point here is that he was not given a chance to speak, so I can't attest to whether the allegation is true or false."

Mr Tan asked if there was a possibility that Lucas had killed himself because the allegations against him were true, but his father said "no".

Mr Tan then referred Mr Li to an IMH report following Lucas' visit there in October 2017.

Citing the report, Mr Tan said Lucas said men in his family had "anger issues". He asked Mr Li who this referred to.

"Maybe he's referring to the father, because the father is very hot-tempered," answered Mr Li, referring to himself.

He added that his second son was also hot-tempered. 

In the IMH report, Lucas said his father used to get physical. Mr Tan questioned Mr Li about this.

"When my second son was younger, I whipped him," Mr Li answered candidly. He said his wife would cry when this happened, but he said he did not whip Lucas.

In the IMH report, Lucas said he was not close to his brothers. Mr Li explained this, saying that they had nothing in common, as Lucas was a debater but his two younger brothers were active in sports.

Mr Tan then questioned Mr Li about the prospective earnings Lucas would have earned.

"It's the plaintiff's own case that Lucas was a suicide risk," said Mr Tan. He said Mr Li's claims for prospective earnings by Lucas were "speculative at best", as Lucas had this condition for a long time.

"As long as he doesn't kill himself, I'm sure he will (earn). The potential of him moving up the corporate ladder is there," said Mr Li. 

Asked if his prospects would have been affected by employers knowing about his mental condition, Mr Li said they would not have been affected "at all".

He said his son was in the top 10 per cent at Enterprise Singapore.

"Look at his income over the years," said Mr Li. "It keeps escalating. One simple reason is that he keeps hitting his KPI (key performance indicators) and also his performance bonus."

Mr Tan said when the allegations surfaced, they would have affected Lucas' prospects anyway.

"Provided he's guilty," responded Mr Li. "If Lucas is guilty, if the allegations (are) true, he would have to face the music."

The court heard that Lucas was giving S$500 per month to his mother and another S$500 per month to his father since 2016 up till the time he died.

Mr Li said that was based on his salary at the time.

"If he has a substantial jump in income, I'm sure he will increase his allowance to us. In fact, he told both of us not to worry, he will look after us and he wanted both of us to move in with him if he has his own house," he said.

"Lucas was not given a chance to speak," said Mr Li. "And the association at the same time also did not do a thorough investigation. When I say thorough, they need to listen to both sides of the story. But that was not carried out and I personally feel that the association did not follow protocol and as such I feel that Lucas has been unfairly treated."


Lucas' mother also took the stand briefly. She described her son as a sensitive person.

According to her evidence, Lucas had told her that he made a mistake in entertaining the advances of a former student in his debate training programme in 2014.

He insisted that there was no physical contact and they only exchanged photos, said his mother. According to what Lucas told her, this was consensual and the student was above 18 at the time.

Lucas also told his mother before he died that he was "a disappointment" to his parents and that he brought shame to the family.

When his mother asked him what happened, Lucas told her about the issue and said he had received an email banning him from the debate society.

Questioned on the stand, she said she was not familiar with the allegations against Lucas. 

"I only knew of this through the (court) process, because basically, I was just very badly affected (by) the passing of my son and that was just my focus," she said.

She was also questioned by opposing counsel Mr Tan about the IMH report where Lucas talked about his family background.

She said Lucas faced verbal abuse as a child from his father.

"The words used by the father would be very strong, so you would think it's categorised under abuse," she said. 

Asked to give an example, she said: "He would say - 'Why are you such a softie?', 'stand up! You are a man'. But Lucas is a very gentle person."

The trial continues on Wednesday.

Source: CNA/ll(gr)


Also worth reading