PM agreed to sell Oxley house to resolve dispute

The Oxley Road house was bequeathed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The late Mr Lee's estate was divided equally among his three children, according to his last will read on April 12, 2015. The siblings could not reach an agreem
The Oxley Road house was bequeathed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The late Mr Lee's estate was divided equally among his three children, according to his last will read on April 12, 2015. The siblings could not reach an agreement on the house until late in 2015, when PM Lee transferred its ownership to Mr Lee Hsien Yang, at full market value.ST FILE PHOTO

The house at the centre of the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings now belongs to his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang.

The property was bequeathed to PM Lee by their father, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The late Mr Lee's estate was divided equally among his three children, according to his last will read on April 12, 2015.

In a statement issued by his lawyers last night, giving an edited summary of what he had told a ministerial committee, PM Lee said he had offered to transfer the property to his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, at a nominal sum of $1.

He added that should the property be transacted later or acquired by the Government, all proceeds would go to charity.

PM Lee said the proposed transfer was made as part of efforts to resolve the family disputes amicably, after Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang expressed unhappiness that the house had been given to him.

The siblings could not reach an agreement until late in 2015, when PM Lee transferred ownership of the house to Mr Lee Hsien Yang instead, at full market value. The price was not disclosed.

In addition, the two brothers each donated half the value of the house to eight charities named in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's obituary notice.

This was "to pre-empt any future controversy over compensation or redevelopment proceeds", PM Lee said.

"It is not tenable for the family to retain proceeds from any dealing with 38, Oxley Road, as it would look like the family is opposing acquisition and preservation of the house for monetary reasons," he said, adding that his brother remains unhappy about him taking this position, and his sister appears to be as well.

The revelations in PM Lee's statement appeared to be in response to the allegations made by his siblings that he and his wife had been keen to have the house preserved for their own political gain, and that he had abused his position to push his political agenda.

PM Lee's statement also made clear that the Government would consider what to do with the house only after Dr Lee no longer lived in it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'PM agreed to sell Oxley house to resolve dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe