Oxley Road: Lee siblings say PM Lee Hsien Loong misled Mr Lee Kuan Yew into thinking Govt would gazette family home

Dr Lee Wei Ling (left) and Mr Lee Hsien Yang.
Dr Lee Wei Ling (left) and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The younger siblings of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have responded to his ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on their dispute over the family home at 38 Oxley Road.

They accused PM Lee of misleading their father and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew over the status of the family home - that the gazetting of 38 Oxley Road was either 'inevitable' or that the house was already gazetted.

Because of the misrepresentation, Mr Lee, who had wanted to demolish the house, had considered "alternatives" to demolition, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling said.

In Parliament on Monday, PM Lee revealed that Mr Lee had approved of renovation plans to the Oxley Road house, which would demolish the private living spaces of the house but keep the basement dining room which had historical significance. The dining room was where meetings took place that led to the formation of the People's Action Party in 1954. 

PM Lee said that the renovation plans showed that while Mr Lee Kuan Yew wanted to demolish the house, he was prepared to consider other options, if the Government decided otherwise.

The younger Lee siblings allege that their brother wants to preserve the house against their father's wishes for political gain. PM Lee has denied this. Mr Lee Kuan Yew died in 2015 at age 91. 

 
 

In a Facebook post on Tuesday morning(July4), Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote: "From 2010, LHL improperly misrepresented to our father LKY that gazetting of 38 Oxley Road was either 'inevitable' or that the house was already gazetted. We now know that no decision had been made."

He reproduced an email dated Oct 3 2011 that Mr Lee Kuan Yew sent to his three children and PM Lee's wife Ho Ching which said: "But Loong as PM has indicated that he would declare it a heritage site.​ That will put an end to any rebuilding."

​Mr​ Lee Hsien Yang​, who made the same points in an interview with South China Morning Post, also said that his father had asked his lawyer Kwa Kim Li to search for the order to gazette the house. She did not find such a gazette.

He said that discussions about renovation​s​ of the house came about because of PM Lee's misrepresentations and not because their father "accepted" preservation.

"Merely because LKY and we accept that the government has power to gazette the house does not mean that this is something that LKY wished for."

​He added that his father had made clear his wish to demolish the house after his death. ​​ 

"LK​Y was a public figure and made his wish to demolish 38 Oxley Road completely explicit. If he changed his mind on demolition, he would have made it known in a clear and public fashion. He never did."

H​e​ said of PM Lee: "In Parliament, LHL has tried to play with words, asserting that just because Lee Kuan Yew left instructions for what to do if the house was gazetted, that means that he 'accepted' that the house should be gazetted."

Mr Lee​ said that leaving instructions for how to deal with a "bad event" did not imply acceptance or desire for such an outcome.

"Suppose someone leaves instructions saying, 'I don't want my books to catch fire. But if my books do catch fire, please call my insurance company.' That does not mean that he 'accepts' that his books will catch fire. Obviously, it is not an excuse to burn his books."

 

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