Oxley Road: PM Lee Hsien Loong explains initial $1 deal with siblings, and other family matters

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he had agreed to sell 38 Oxley Road to both his siblings for $1 but there was an "impasse".

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's offer to transfer the 38, Oxley Road house to his brother and sister fell through because the three siblings could not agree on the conditions of the deal.

They even issued him an ultimatum, coinciding with the 2015 General Elections, to accept their terms.

PM Lee gave details of these and other family matters in Parliament on Tuesday (July 4) as he stated that all along, he wanted to manage the family matter privately without escalating it.

He also opted not to insist on his legal rights as he was hoping to work out an amicable resolution, even if that meant compromising some of his own interests, he said.

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He was responding to MPs like Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC). She asked why he offered to transfer his share to the house to his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling for $1, but subsequently transferred it to his brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang at market value.

Also, Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC) asked why PM Lee did not raise his concerns over his father's will earlier, during probate, and why he was expressing his concern only now.

 
 

The details emerged in public as the younger Lee siblings accused their brother over the past fortnight of abusing his power, by blocking the demolition of the house after their father died.

The $1 deal that fell through

PM Lee said his offer to sell the house for $1 was an effort to resolve his sibling's unhappiness over their father leaving the house to him.

This was why in May 2015, he offered to transfer his share to his sister for a nominal sum of $1, a natural decision as she had lived in the house for most of her life.

He asked only that if the property were sold later, or acquired by the Government, all proceeds would go to charity.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang "wanted in on the deal" but during discussions, disagreements arose.

Said PM Lee: "My siblings started making allegations about me, and escalating them. So I told them that they would have to stop attacking me if they wanted the deal done, because otherwise... there was no point my transferring the house to them."

Later, he clarified that his siblings wanted him to undertake to help them get the house knocked down.

"I said, I cannot do that. I do not know what you will do, and I do not know whether I will agree with everything you will do," he said, calling this an impasse.

In August 2015, he called a General Election - which was when his siblings demanded he accept their terms by Sept 1, "which perhaps coincidentally was Nomination Day".

"I told them I was very busy, and they would surely understand I had a lot on my plate. I would respond as soon as the elections were over, which I did," he said.

He also asked his siblings to clarify the circumstances surrounding their father's last will, and the deadline passed without event.

After the election, PM Lee made a fresh offer to sell the house at fair market value to his brother, without conditions on what any siblings could do or say. It was signed in December 2015.

This plan was a variation on what had been discussed with their father, but it had not been adopted.

"I hoped that that would settle the problem and I could keep the matter low-key," he said.

Why the statutory declarations were made

Later, when the ministerial committee studying options for the house asked all three Lee siblings for their views, PM Lee wrote in with his thoughts.

The siblings commented on each other's views. But because they were stressing the first part of the demolition clause in their father's will, PM Lee said he felt the need to explain the circumstances surrounding the will.

He made statutory declarations - sworn statements which cannot be taken back - because of the gravity of the matter.

But he did so privately because he did not want to escalate the quarrel, he said.

He added that he was "forced to respond" when his siblings made public allegations against him on June 14, and therefore only then released summaries of the declarations publicly.

 

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