S'pore ambassador responds to NYT article on Oxley dispute

Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri
Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri

Singapore's ambassador to the United States has rebutted an article in the New York Times (NYT) about the dispute over former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's house in Oxley Road.

The report, titled "Dispute over Singapore founder's house becomes a national crisis", was published in NYT on July 4.

It said that Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang's allegations against their older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, hinted at deeper divisions about Singapore's political future.

The siblings have accused their brother of abusing his power to block the demolition of their father's house.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

"These charges have transformed what on the surface is an ugly estate battle into a national crisis that has raised questions about how this island nation is governed, the basis of the governing party's uninterrupted 58-year rule and how the country's leaders are chosen," wrote Mr Richard C. Paddock, a Bangkok-based contributor to the NYT.

In a letter published yesterday, Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri rejected the article's framing of the Oxley Road dispute.

He wrote that it "promotes the absurd notion that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government with the fate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house".

ABSURD NOTION

(It) promotes the absurd notion that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government to the fate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house.

AMBASSADOR ASHOK KUMAR MIRPURI, rejecting the New York Times article's framing of the Oxley Road dispute.

Mr Ashok noted that PM Lee made a full statement in Parliament on July 3 in response to accusations by his siblings of abuse of power over the house. "He explained how he had recused himself from all government decisions concerning the house, and also sold the house to his brother, so that he no longer has any interest or influence over the house," he wrote.

"No Member of Parliament made any allegations of impropriety or wrongdoing against the PM during the debate, nor has anyone else produced specific evidence to back the siblings' vague allegations," he said.

"There is no national crisis in Singapore," he added.

Mr Ashok's letter was edited by the NYT, which deleted a line.

A full copy of the letter was issued to the media by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last night.

It contained the line NYT had deleted, which said: "I am surprised that NYT did not seek any comments from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong or the Singapore Government before writing the piece."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore ambassador responds to NYT article on Oxley dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe