38, Oxley Road dispute

PM sought to bypass court system: Lee Hsien Yang

When Parliament meets today, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will address allegations of abuse of power that his siblings have made against him, and Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean will speak about the ministerial committee.
When Parliament meets today, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will address allegations of abuse of power that his siblings have made against him, and Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean will speak about the ministerial committee.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

By setting up a ministerial committee to consider options for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sought to bypass the court system, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said yesterday.

In his latest Facebook post in the the continuing dispute among the siblings on the future of the Oxley Road property, he accused PM Lee of taking "his grievance on a 'private family matter' to a committee of his subordinates".

The committee, set up and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, is studying options for the house at 38, Oxley Road, and the implications of these options.

But the committee has been in the cross-hairs of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling. They have charged that its purpose is to block their father's wish to have the house demolished and to "discredit" his last will.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in his two-page statement on Facebook: "This was an extra-judicial secret attack, aimed at undermining our father's last will and his unwavering wish."

"The committee now claims it was just discussing options for the house, but this is an excuse offered after its operations were exposed," he added.

He said the "mysterious" committee refused to list the options it was considering for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house, even after repeated requests from him and Dr Lee, who are joint trustees of the late Mr Lee's estate.

Over the course of the dispute, several ministers weighed in saying there is no mystery to the committee, which comprises ministers such as Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. They also said the Government is responsible for considering the public interest aspects of the house, which has heritage and historical significance, adding that similar committees have been set up to deliberate on issues affecting Singapore.

Its focus, he added, was in fact to "parrot Lee Hsien Loong's attack on our father's wish to demolish the house and Hsien Loong's attempts to discredit our father's final will".

In the course of its work, the committee had asked all three Lee siblings about their father's last wish regarding the house as stated in his will.

PM Lee, who issued a statement to refute his siblings' various allegations a day after the dispute came into public view on June 14, had also said in the statement that he had serious misgivings about the preparation of the late Mr Lee's final will.

Over the course of the dispute, several ministers weighed in saying there is no mystery to the committee, which comprises ministers such as Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. They also said the Government is responsible for considering the public interest aspects of the house, which has heritage and historical significance, adding that similar committees have been set up to deliberate on issues affecting Singapore.

PM Lee had recused himself from all government decisions relating to the house.

But Mr Lee Hsien Yang charged yesterday that the closest hint the committee gave to any discussion was a "vague paragraph" from Mr Wong on Aug 24 last year.

Mr Wong had stated that the committee was set up to look at different options for the property, and the implications of these options, including for the neighbourhood.

Mr Wong also cited an example to illustrate the committee's work, saying that if the house was to be converted into a park, the committee would examine what this means for other properties in the area and whether this treatment of the neighbourhood would be consistent with the late Mr Lee's wish.

But this, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said yesterday, "avoids confirming whether being 'converted to a park' is an option under sincere consideration".

He said that he and Dr Lee had written in to ask for concrete information but did not get any answers.

Yesterday, he posted extracts of some of their correspondence.

Among other things, they wanted to know more about the committee's members and the options being considered.

He added: "Whether or not LHL (Lee Hsien Loong) supposedly recused himself from decision-making, his own subordinates cannot be the judge of a matter in which he has a direct personal interest."

PM Lee and DPM Teo will deliver ministerial statements on the dispute involving the fate of the Oxley Road house when Parliament meets today.

PM Lee will address allegations of abuse of power that his siblings have made against him, and Mr Teo will speak about the ministerial committee.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'PM sought to bypass court system: Hsien Yang '. Print Edition | Subscribe