Netizens Praise Singapore's PM For The Way He Responded To His Family Feud
In a surprising turn of events, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has issued a public apology to the people of Singapore, over a family feud involving his late father's property at 38 Oxley Road
In a video posted on Monday, 19 June, at 7.31pm, the third prime minister of Singapore expressed his deepest regret over the fact that the private dispute between him and his siblings have became a public spectacle.
"My father (Lee Kuan Yew) left the property at 38 Oxley Road to me as part of my equal share of his estate, but my siblings were not happy about this. I tried to deal with their unhappiness privately. I offered to transfer 38 Oxley Rd to my sister for a nominal SGD1. Unfortunately that offer failed. I then sold the house to my brother at a fair market valuation, and donated all my proceeds to charity.
"However, my siblings have decided to go out and make serious allegations publicly. For example, they say that I am using my position as Prime Minister to influence the Ministerial Committee chaired by DPM Teo Chee Hean. These allegations go beyond private and personal matters, and extend to the conduct of my office and the integrity of the Government," explained PM Lee.
In his efforts to address the concerns surrounding the matter, PM Lee stressed that he will answer all questions regarding the feud when the parliament sits on 3 July, where he will also make a Ministerial Statement refuting the allegations against him
"All MPs will then have the opportunity to raise questions for themselves and their constituents. I have instructed that the PAP party whip be lifted. I urge all MPs, including the non-PAP MPs, to examine the issues thoroughly and question me and my Cabinet colleagues vigorously.
"I hope that this full, public airing in Parliament will dispel any doubts that have been planted and strengthen confidence in our institutions and our system of government," said PM Lee, adding that this issue will not distract him from his duties as the country's prime minister.
While the dispute brews in Singapore, netizens in Malaysia, in particular prominent lawyer Azhar Harun, has commended PM Lee for handling the issue so well.
"I have the highest respect and admiration for this man, if not for anything, for this public statement and the way he handles this."
He made the comment in a Facebook post about PM Lee's apology video.
"Crisp. Frank. Prompt. Unemotional. No threat. No warning. No name calling. No belittling. No stressing his jantanness or samsengness. No emotion. No overseas trips to take selfies with famous people. No invocation of muftis, ulamaks, god or religion.
"In fact, he will now personally explain everything in the Parliament. He invites EVERY MP to ask questions about the matter. To ensure that all MPs ask questions without fear or favour, he is LIFTING PARTY WHIP so that even MPs from his own party could grill him," said Azhar, in his post that has already garnered more than 2,500 likes and 700 shares to date.
The lawyer made comparisons of the situation in Singapore with Malaysia, saying that we are the opposite of what we claim to be.
"Malaysia, despite its daily emphasis that it is the best in the world; god given; god chosen and is in fact a gift to all humankind, does exactly the opposite.
"We ridicule people. We twist and turn. We punish. We label. We lie. We silence questioners. We scheme. We control. We hide. We secretise. And. We blame," read his Facebook post.
However, this feud marks a rare occasion for the family, that has mostly maintained a very private life as they've been at the forefront of Singapore's politics since its establishment
What is the spat about?
The main premise of the dispute centers on the late Singaporean prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew's (LKY) colonial-era bungalow, Number 38, Oxley Road. LKY moved into the house in 1950 and lived there until his death in 2015.
His will included a wish that called for the demolition of the house after his death or if his daughter Wei Ling wishes to continue living in the house, it has to be demolished after she moves out of it.
"I've told the Cabinet, when I'm dead, demolish it," said LKY in an interview with Straits Times in 2011.
All three of his children had initially expressed their interest in honouring their late father's request but PM Lee's two younger siblings - Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang - have accused him of using his political power to keep the house to further his own political agenda.
PM Lee has denied all allegations of interfering with the Ministerial Committee's decisions and discussions on the fate of 38 Oxley Road.
Why did LKY want the house to be demolished?
"Because I think, I've seen other houses, Nehru's, Shakespeare's. They become a shambles after a while. People trudge through. Because of my house the neighbouring houses cannot build high. Now demolish my house and change the planning rules, go up, the land value will go up," explained LKY in the same interview with Straits Times.
When asked by the Singaporean English daily on whether destroying it would take away an important part of Singapore's history, LKY said:
"No, no, no. You know the cost of preserving it? It's an old house built over a hundred years ago. No foundation. The cost of maintaining it, damp comes up the wall because there's no foundation. So the piling in the neighbourhood has made cracks in my walls. But fortunately the pillars are sound," he added.
How did the family dispute become public?
On 14 June, PM Lee's younger siblings released a joint public statement in which they said they have lost all confidence in him as a leader and accused him of misusing his power.
"We are disturbed by the character, conduct, motives and leadership of our brother, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s current prime minister and the role of his wife, Ho Ching.
"Since the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, on 23 March 2015, we have felt threatened by Hsien Loong’s misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government and its agencies to drive his personal agenda," read the six-page statement posted on their official Facebook pages.
The statement focused on their dispute regarding 38 Oxley Road, the influence of PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching on political decisions, and allegations that he harbours political ambitions for his son, Li Hongyi.
Read the full statement here.
What's up with the Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road? Why was it set up?
Just hours after PM Lee's younger siblings released the public statement accusing him of influencing the decisions the committee makes on their family home, Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong stressed that the prime minister is not at all involved in the committee.
The statement was supported by Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean who said in a statement on 17 June that, "There is nothing 'secret' about this committee".
"Many critical decisions on the future of Singapore were made there (38 Oxley Road) by Mr Lee and our pioneer leaders. The Committee has thus been looking at the options available for 38 Oxley Road while paying particular attention to respecting Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes for his house," said Teo, as reported by Channel NewsAsia.
Ultimately, Straits Times said that the law allows the house to be preserved as a national monument under the Preservation of Monuments Act, if it fulfils certain criteria like having historic, cultural, or symbolic significance among others
What do you think about the way PM Lee is handling the family dispute that has become a public spectacle? Let us know in the comment section below.