SINGAPORE - Ms Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Friday (June 23) said she had informed the Lee siblings about the items loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB).
She gave her account in a reply on Mr Lee Hsien Yang's Facebook page. Her brother-in-law had accused her of taking away items belonging to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and said "unapproved removal of these items, even by a beneficiary, constitutes both theft and intermeddling".
In her first comments after the feud between PM Lee and his siblings became public last week, Ms Ho said she had updated Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling about what she did when tidying up the house at 38, Oxley Road after Mr Lee's funeral.
Referring to Ms Ho's comments, PM Lee said in a Facebook post on Friday evening that the loan of items to NHB was "openly done, and for a good cause".
He wrote: "Ho Ching explains how my father’s items were handled after he passed away, with my siblings kept in the loop.
"Questions had been raised about her role in the loan of some of these items to NHB. The loan was openly done, and for a good cause - an exhibition remembering my father soon after he died."
This is Ms Ho's reply to Mr Lee Hsien Yang:
I was away from 31 January night till 7 Feb evening, when I went with Loong to Germany and Spain for his official and working visits. I was not in Singapore on Feb 6.
In any case, there would not be any reason for me to rummage or tidy up papa's things when he was in the hospital - that is not me nor my values.
However, you may remember that after papa's funeral, you went off with Fern for a break in Japan or somewhere. I began tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, dogsbody work as I mentioned to you before, which I couldn't see Ling or Fern doing. This was what I had also done at papa's request after mama's death. Ling was in Oxley, and I had kept her posted, while trying not to intrude into her grieving.
It was in the middle of those two first weeks of April, tidying up the house after papa's death, that I came across small interesting items which I thought were significant in papa's life. I explained to Loong about a puzzling telegram about a Battleship arrival. Loong immediately knew its significance, and identified 4 items that he thought it would be useful to lend to NHB which was organizing an exhibition on papa's life. These included the Battleship telegram and the John Laycock letter, which would be related to what papa did during the Postmen's strike. I arranged to do so through the PMO, emphasizing to NHB that these items belonged to the estate and must be returned.
During that period, I had also done things like organising papa's ties, and you confirmed that you were agreeable for NHB to come and pick what they wanted - they mostly wanted the relevant ties to match what papa wore during various historical events.
After the will was read on 12 April, I again kept both you and Ling posted on all that I had done including the 4 items loaned to NHB. In fact, I was in the basement working with the maids, when I was asked to join you and Fern, as well as Loong and Ling, for the reading of the will.
You may wish to check your e-mail records to refresh your memory on the various updates that I had given you during those 2 weeks.
I hope that whatever you are upset about, you will have the heart to remember what papa and mama would have wanted most for the family and for Singapore.