Oxley Road dispute: Indranee Rajah says Lee Hsien Yang has not answered her question

Indranee Rajah (left) said that Lee Hsien Yang had not answered her question on why the government needs to make a decision now, regarding the demolition of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road house.
Indranee Rajah (left) said that Lee Hsien Yang had not answered her question on why the government needs to make a decision now, regarding the demolition of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road house.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had not answered the basic question she had raised and put it to him again: Why is the Government being asked to make a decision now on whether to demolish 38, Oxley Road, when such decision might not have to be taken for decades?

She was responding through a Facebook post on Tuesday (June27) morning to a separate post from Mr Lee earlier in the day. In that post, he had said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's siblings have never asked the Government to allow them to demolish 38, Oxley Road right away.

He also mentioned that he and Dr Lee Wei Ling had offered to build a memorial garden after the house is demolished but PM Lee rejected the offer.

As for demolishing the house, Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote: "We have never asked the Government to allow us to demolish the house now, only after Wei Ling's departure."

But Ms Indranee questioned why the government was being asked to decide now. "What is the urgency? This question has not been answered," she wrote, adding that Dr Lee was still staying there.

"As Mr Lee Hsien Yang would know, this government cannot, as a matter of principle, bind a future government that is elected by the people 20 to 30 years from now," said Ms Indranee, who had listed four options for the house - demolition, preservation, conservation, and compulsory acquisition - in a Facebook post on Monday (June26).

In a separate Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Lee responded saying that "the answer is simple, we seek to honor our father's final request in his will".

Both Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang also took issue with a ministerial committee set up in 2016 to consider options on the house, saying that it was just a cover to "attack our father's will".

 

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said the committee was focused primarily on "parroting PM Lee's attacks on our father's (the late Lee Kuan Yew) will".

He also said that before the committee was formed, an offer by him and Dr Lee - joint executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will - to build a memorial garden after demolishing the house was rejected by PM Lee.

"SMS Indranee is pretending that the secret committee had an open discussion with Lee Kuan Yew's Estate about options for the house. Nothing could be further from the truth. The committee refused to state either the options it was considering or its final deliverable," he added.

"Long before the committee was formed, we offered to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean that the house be demolished after Wei Ling's departure, and a memorial garden be built in its place. DPM Teo was reluctant and did not pursue the discussion further. Lee Hsien Loong also rejected this offer."

Ms Indranee citing a June 17 statement by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Cheo Hean, said one of the reasons the ministerial committee was set up was because Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had wanted the Government to commit itself to immediately demolishing the house.

Dr Lee said this was "untrue", adding: "A few days ago, DPM Teo revealed that the committee could make no commitment, only a non-binding recommendation. How can a committee be set up to consider a request, when its deliverables, discovered only now, preclude it from fulfilling that request?"

DPM Teo had said in earlier comments on the committee and its formation that one of the reasons it had been set up was because he felt "it would be useful if a future government deciding on the house had a set of options that came from ministers who had personally discussed this matter with Mr Lee Kuan Yew".