Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The famiLEE feud: Not another minister on the Will again!


The dispute over the House and the Will should have been kept private. It is regrettable that our ministers are getting involved in what should have been a private matter. The right forum should have been a court of law.

Was it wise or necessary for ministers to be involved in such matters as Mr Lee’s will, which are difficult to ascertain? Should they not have confined themselves to deciding only on what to do with the house – demolish, preserve or some intermediate option?

In retrospect, ministers should have stayed clear of the dispute over the will. They should have told PM Lee: As the eldest child, please resolve the matter with your siblings. Do not involve us. We expect you to solve it, hopefully amicably. Involving the Government risks harming its good name and that of its ministers” (“Three key issues in the Lee v Lee saga“, Straits Times, Jun 21).

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OH NO! NOT ANOTHER MINISTER COMMENTING ON THE WILL AGAIN

I refer to the article “Oxley Road dispute: Indranee asks Lee Hsien Yang who drafted the late Lee Kuan Yew’s final will” (Straits Times, Jun 25).

It states that “Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah on Saturday (June 24) called on Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to identify the lawyer who drafted the final will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

On Saturday, her focus was on the will. She said Mr Lee Hsien Yang has insisted that Ms Kwa Kim Li from Lee & Lee had drafted it. But the lawyer, who prepared the first six wills, has denied having a part in the final document.

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Indranee Rajah 9 mins

In his FB post this morning, Mr Lee Hsien Yang suggests that the question I had put is incorrect. He says he is not asking for the house to be demolished now. He is only asking that it be demolished after Dr Lee Wei Ling's departure.

I welcome the opportunity to have this clarified. This way everyone is clear on exactly what the issue is.

It may be helpful if I refer to the various public statements on this.
  • (a) In his Statement on 17 June 2017 DPM Teo Cheo Hean explained that one of the reasons why the ministerial committee was established was because:
  • "...soon after Mr Lee's passing, the Executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will (Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling) themselves wanted the government to commit itself immediately to demolishing the house, even though Dr Lee Wei Ling might continue to live in the House for many more years."

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Indranee Rajah 12 hrs 

4 Financial Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute

My two previous posts covered the so-called "Demolition Clause" in the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will and the circumstances in which the Will came to be.

In this post I will discuss the various options for the house that a future government might consider once his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling is no longer living in it.
  • What financial interest does Lee Hsien Loong have in 38 Oxley Road?
  • Some Facts about Oxley Road
  • What could happen to 38 Oxley Road?
  • Why is the government being asked to demolish the house now?

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Indranee Rajah 23 June at 02:00

4 Things You Should Know about the Oxley Dispute

As Singaporeans we are all saddened by the Oxley dispute. I am particularly saddened because I looked after MM’s constituency in his final years and got to see at close quarters what a great man he was. I know how much this would have grieved MM and Mrs Lee. People have expressed confusion about the things which have been said. Many are trying to make sense of it all.

The key to understanding this matter is first to get a handle on the issues and some important facts. Here are 4 things you should know about the Oxley dispute.
  • What does the 7th Will actually say?
  • Why does the government need to be involved in what happens to 38 Oxley Road?
  • What is PM's involvement in government deliberations on 38 Oxley Road?
  • Can we demolish the House now?

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Indranee Rajah Yesterday at 07:06

4 Further Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute

As I explained yesterday, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not simply insist his house be demolished once he was gone. First, he said his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling should be allowed to live in the house for as long as she wished. This means that the question of demolition may not arise for many more years. Second, the late Mr Lee provided for the possibility of the government deciding to preserve the house, in which case he asked that the house not be opened to others except his descendants.

Today, I would like to look at the last Will - or the "7th Will". How did it come to be? Why is this in contention and what are the issues?
  • How many Wills did Mr Lee make and what's the difference between them?
  • What concerns have been raised about the 7th Will?
  • Why is this relevant from a government perspective?
  • Which Lawyer drafted the 7th Will?

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TODAY 12 hrs

JUST IN: In a new Facebook post, Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah questioned why Mr Lee Hsien Yang is asking for "an immediate commitment" by the Government to the demolition of the house on 38 Oxley Road.

"What is the urgency?" she asked.

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Singapore minister to Hsien Yang: Why the urgency of Oxley Road demolition?
Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah and Lee Hsien Yang. — Picture by TODAY/AFP

Senior Minister of State (Finance and Law) Indranee Rajah yesterday questioned Lee Hsien Yang’s demand for “an immediate commitment” by the Government to the demolition of the house on 38 Oxley Road, pointing out that letting the property stand, for now, does not go against the wishes of the late Lew Kuan Yew.

The late founding Prime Minister had in his final will indicated his wish for the house to be demolished upon his death, or when his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling moves out.

Dr Lee is currently living in the century-old house, and has plans to do so for the foreseeable future.

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We've never asked Govt to let us demolish 38 Oxley Road house now: Lee Hsien Yang

Responding to comments by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said on Tuesday (Jun 27) that he & his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, had never asked the Government to allow them to demolish founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s family home now.

In a post on Monday, Ms Indranee listed 4 possible options for the house at 38 Oxley Road – demolition, preservation, conservation & compulsory acquisition – & questioned why Mr Lee Hsien Yang wanted "immediate commitment" on demolition since Dr Lee is still living in the house.

“The Government has publicly stated that it will respect those wishes & does not intend to do anything until Dr Lee leaves,” she wrote, pointing out that letting the property stand, for now, does not go against the wishes of the late Mr Lee.

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Demolition, conservation among four options for 38 Oxley Road

There are 4 possible options when a decision is taken on what to do with Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s former home, said Senior Minister of State for Law & Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday.

These are demolition, preservation, conservation & compulsory acquisition, she said in a third Facebook post, weighing in on a family feud that was made public by a joint statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s younger siblings two weeks ago.


In the post published around 9.30pm, Ms Indranee outlined the implications of each of the options.

related: Estate agents estimate 38 Oxley Road property to be worth around S$24 million

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Indranee lists options for 38 Oxley Road; questions why Lee Hsien Yang wants 'immediate commitment' on demolition

There are 4 possible options for the house of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at 38 Oxley Road – demolition, preservation, conservation & compulsory acquisition – said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah on Monday (Jun 26).

Listing the options and their consequences in a Facebook post, Ms Indranee said: “From the Government's perspective, the question is whether there is an intermediate option which will allow us to respect the wishes of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and still preserve the heritage and history of 38 Oxley Road for Singapore and Singaporeans.”

The house has been at the centre of a bitter dispute between the late Mr Lee’s children, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Lee Hsien Yang & Dr Lee Wei Ling.

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Indranee Rajah questions urgency of demolition of LKY's home
Indranee Rajah questions urgency of demolition of LKY's home

Senior Minister of State for Law & Finance Indranee Rajah put up another Facebook post last night about the ongoing dispute over Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's home in Oxley Road.

In it, Ms Indranee questioned the motives behind Mr Lee's son Mr Lee Hsien Yang's desire to demolish the family home so urgently and asked why there was a need for a government decision on this issue now.

Here are her 4 points:
  • SOME FACTS ABOUT 38, OXLEY ROAD
  • WHAT FINANCIAL INTEREST DOES PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG HAVE IN 38, OXLEY ROAD?
  • WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO 38, OXLEY ROAD?
  • WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT BEING ASKED TO DEMOLISH THE HOUSE NOW?

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38 Oxley Road Committee: Interest In Lee Kuan Yew's Will Confined To Understanding His Wishes, Says Indranee
38 Oxley Road. (Photo: Howard Law)

The interest of the 38 Oxley Road ministerial committee in the will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is confined to trying to understand his thinking on the house, said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah on Saturday (Jun 24).

In a Facebook post titled "4 Further Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute", Ms Indranee pointed out that demolition clause was in his first four wills, but was removed in his fifth and sixth wills, and reinserted in his seventh and final will.

"So Mr Lee had changed his mind once. The question is whether he changed it a second time? Or whether the demolition clause was inserted without his awareness?" Ms Indranee wrote.

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Identify lawyer who drafted Mr Lee's final will: Indranee

Senior Minister of State for Law & Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday called on Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to identify the lawyer who drafted the final will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

She said his June 17 Facebook post had indicated that he knew who had prepared the will, when he twice mentioned "we" in reference to his dealings over the will.

Ms Indranee asked in a lengthy Facebook post if the "we" referred to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife, lawyer Lee Suet Fern.

related: Indranee asks LHY who drafted the late Lee Kuan Yew's final will

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'An insult' to LKY to suggest he did not understand last will, Hsien Yang says to Indranee

It is "an insult to a great man" to suggest that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not understand or know what was in his last will, his younger son Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said in response to fresh questions about the document at the heart of a public dispute over the house on 38 Oxley Road.

On Saturday (Jun 24) night, Senior Minister of State (Finance & Law) Indranee Rajah reiterated a poser first raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: The identity of the lawyer who prepared Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Last Will, & the questions that would arise if it was Mrs Lee Suet Fern, given that the final will increased the share of the estate for her husband Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

Writing on Facebook, Ms Indranee questioned who Mr Lee Hsien Yang was referring to when he previously mentioned "we took what we understood to be the final version of the 2011 will, without realising that a gift over clause had been in the executed version of the 2011 will". A gift over clause in a will provides for the gift of property to a second recipient if a certain event occurs.

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An 'insult' to suggest Lee Kuan Yew did not understand his own will: Hsien Yang

It is “an insult to a great man” to suggest that the late Lee Kuan Yew did not understand his own will, said Lee Hsien Yang.

In his latest Facebook post on Saturday (24 June), the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the PM “is now getting his ministers to repeat his insinuations that Lee Kuan Yew did not understand his own will”. It was an apparent reference to Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah’s Facebook post on the same day.

Hsien Yang, who is currently chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said, “They argue that Lee Kuan Yew, a Cambridge-educated lawyer and sitting MP, signed his own will without knowing what was in it. They claim that he initialed beneath the demolition clause, without understanding what it meant in plain English.”

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Lee Hsien Yang: Don’t insult my father by saying he didn’t know what went into his last will

Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, who is a Tanjong Pagar GRC MP, the late Lee Kuan Yew’s former running mate and senior counsel, has up the ante.

In a Facebook post on Saturday night, June 24, she asked some serious questions pertaining to who was the lawyer who prepared Lee Kuan Yew’s last will, highlighting the very real issue of a conflict of interests that could point to the heart of the Lee family feud.

In a rehash of a previously mentioned talking point, Indranee wrote that this was so as the only two lawyers that have been narrowed down who could have drafted the Last Will are:
  • Kwa Kim Li, who is the cousin of Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling
  • Lee Suet Fern, who is the wife of Lee Hsien Yang

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Four questions for Indranee Rajah on the ‘Oxley Dispute’

One of the points she raised was the manner in which the 7th Will was drafted. Indranee said “The concerns raised about the 7th Will can be found in the summary of Lee Hsien Loong’s Statutory Declarations. Essentially, they relate to whether the reinsertion of the Demolition Clause was brought to Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s attention and whether he was given sufficient time to review the Will.” Our questions for Indranee:
  • Well, probate was granted on the will. Essentially, probate refers to a legal process where a will is “proved” in a court and accepted as a valid public document that it is the true last testament of the deceased. PM Lee had the chance and right to contest the will but he did not. Surely the will could not have been that dodgy if PM Lee passed on the opportunity to question the will in court?
  • In any case, the validity of the will should be debated in court, not dissected publicly by an office holder on Facebook. If you are so sure about it, take it to court, lah. Look at the past record; if they knew that they had a sure-win case, they would have happily sued already.
  • I am also curious why Indranee only questioned the validity of the 7th Will. After all, she says “The Demolition Clause was in the 1st – 4th Wills. It was removed in the 5th and 6th Will.” So the radical switch happened from the 4th to 5th Will. Why was the Demolition Clause removed then? It also does not square with what Lee Kuan Yew has always maintained – he wants 38 Oxley Road to be demolished after his death. So perhaps the absence of the Demolition Cause in the 4th and 5th Wills deserves as much attention as its insertion into the 7th Will?
  • Indranee also implies that Lim Suet Fern could have been the lawyer that drafted the 7th Will. She said, “If the lawyer referred to… is Mrs Lee Suet Fern, then certain questions will arise. Under our law, the lawyer drafting a will is required to be independent. If the lawyer has an interest in the will, the lawyer must make sure the person making the will gets independent advice.” She added that, “As Mrs Lee Suet Fern is his wife, if she prepared the 7th Will then the question which will arise is what independent advice MM received?”
Now that is a very serious allegation to imply. I hope Indranee has some evidence to back this up. No one embroiled in this dispute has so far confirmed who was the lawyer that drafted the 7th Will. What we know for certain is that it was not Kwa Kim Li, managing partner of the Lee & Lee law firm.

This sounds like professional misconduct at the very least. If no independent advice was given to Lee Kuan Yew, and Lee Suet Fern drafted the 7th Will, this would have been a clear conflict of interest as Lee Suet Fern would have been a beneficiary of the 7th Will as she is married to Lee Hsien Yang.

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Netizens slam Indranee Rajah’s questions on Lee Kuan Yew’s last will

Senior Minister of State (SMOS) for Law Indranee Rajah had on 24 June, raised several questions on the last will of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Chronicling the events of the day that the last will was signed, Ms Rajah asked how the last will came about, who drafted the last will and how LKY got to sign the will.

SMOS’s post was shared over 240 times and drew a flurry of comments. All the commenters on her post with the most number of likes, slammed her opinion. The following are some of the views of these commenters.

Simon Teo: Dear Mdm, are you trying to say that MM LKY was not sane enough to read through his will properly before he signed? I would be very surprised that an experience lawyer like him would make a blunder. I certainly do not hope that your image of MM Lee is that of a senile man who can’t make his own decision. That will be sad if it’s true. God bless you then.

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Indranee Rajah issues Lee Hsien Yang a ‘Gotcha’ in latest Facebook post

Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah has just issued Lee Hsien Yang a “Gotcha” in her latest Facebook post on the ongoing Lee family saga.

In her fourth Facebook post on the issue in five days, Indranee pointed out a contradiction in Lee Hsien Yang’s statements regarding when he and his sister Wei Ling wanted the house to be demolished.

She highlighted that according to DPM Teo Chee Hean, who heads the Ministerial Committee, said he set it up in response to Hsien Yang and WEi Ling pushing the government to commit itself to immediately demolishing the house.

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LET’S NOT TWIST LEE KUAN YEW’S WORDS – HE WANTED HIS HOUSE DEMOLISHED, PERIOD

The Government seems to be on a campaign to turn Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wish about his house into something else. And it is doing so by clutching at straws to shore up its misguided attempts to change what Mr Lee had wanted – the complete demolition of his house at 38 Oxley Road.

In her Facebook post of 23 June, the Senior Minister of State for Law, Indranee Rajah, attempted to convince Singaporeans that Mr Lee “accepted that the house may not be demolished.”

Do note the use of the word “accepted” here.

related: PM LEE’S POSITION UNTENABLE

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Lee Hsien Loong ‘rejected’ offer of Oxley Road memorial garden: Lee Hsien Yang
Wei Ling says it is 'absurd' that minister Shanmugam has no conflict of interest in Oxley house committee

In the latest development in the Lee family feud, Lee Hsien Yang said that he and his sister Wei Ling had offered an alternative use for the Oxley Road site after it was demolished. In a post on Tuesday morning (27 June), he claimed that the offer was turned down. He wrote, “Long before the committee was formed, we offered to DPM 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. LHL (Lee Hsien Loong) also rejected this offer.”

Hsien Yang was writing in response to a Facebook post on Sunday (26 June) by Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah where she asked why Hsien Yang was “asking for an immediate commitment on demolition now”. She also listed four possible options for 38 Oxley Road – demolition, preservation, conservation or compulsory acquisition. “We have never asked the Government to allow us to demolish the house now, only after Wei Ling’s departure,” said Hsien Yang.

He added, “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.”

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LEE HSIEN YANG: DPM TEO & MY BRO REJECTED OUR OFFER TO BUILD MEMORIAL GARDEN ON 38 OXLEY RD

SMS Indranee Rajah asks "Why is the government being asked to demolish the house now?" We have never asked the Government to allow us to demolish the house now, only after Wei Ling's departure.

In turn, we ask "Why was a secret committee on the house formed in 2016?" On 13 April 2015, PM Lee stated that since Wei Ling intended to continue living in the house, it was for the "government of the day" to decide.

Beyond the committee's opening letters, the committee was focussed primarily on parroting LHL's attacks on our father's will, and in particular, clause 7. (Just as SMS Indranee does now.) This was clearly an abuse of power by LHL.

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38 Oxley Road dispute: Govt of the day has to be responsible for decision on house, says DPM Teo
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Wednesday (Jun 21) defended his decision to set up a ministerial committee to look into the options for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's family home on 38 Oxley Road, saying that the Government of the day "has to be responsible for making a decision on the property"

Mr Teo, who chairs the committee, was responding to a commentary by The Straits Times' editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang, who questioned the need for Cabinet ministers to get involved in the dispute among Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong & his siblings over their late father's will.

PM Lee had expressed "grave concern" over how the will was prepared, in particular, the removal and subsequent re-insertion of a clause stating his late father's wish that the Oxley Road house be demolished after his death.

The ministerial committee to consider the future of the house includes Cabinet members who are responsible for heritage, land issues & urban planning: Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Law K Shanmugam, and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

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The Straits Times 4 hrs

Under the law, it is the Government of the day that has to make a decision on the fate of Lee Kuan Yew's house in Oxley Road, said DPM Teo Chee Hean.

"Cabinet cannot outsource decision-making," he added.

He was responding to a commentary by ST editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang.

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Govt 'has to decide Oxley's fate'

Under the law, it is the Government of the day that has to make a decision on the fate of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's house in Oxley Road, DPM Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

That is why it is "incumbent on the Cabinet to consider & decide on the issues, & I have decided to set up a committee to assist Cabinet to do so". "Cabinet cannot outsource decision-making," he added.

Mr Teo also said "setting up a ministerial committee to study - issues is part of normal Cabinet working processes." His latest remarks on the committee he heads were made in response to a commentary by editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang in The Straits Times yesterday.

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Govt of the day has to be responsible for decision on house, says DPM Teo
Mr Teo, who chairs the committee, was responding to a commentary by The Straits Times' editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang, who questioned the need for Cabinet ministers to get involved in the dispute among Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings over their late father's will

In his commentary, Mr Han wrote that, in retrospect, Cabinet ministers "should have stayed clear of the dispute over the will".

Instead, the committee "now finds itself embroiled in an unwieldy dispute over Mr Lee's actions & wishes", Mr Han wrote, noting that "with fresh revelations & allegations every passing day, Cabinet ministers find themselves more & more deeply involved in the saga". Mr Han suggested reconsidering the necessity of the committee & its remit, saying that the Lee siblings should make another attempt to resolve their disagreements privately.

He also suggested that the Founders' Memorial Committee, which had already been formed to look into how best to commemorate Singapore's pioneer leaders, should decide on the fate of the house. "Why leave out the most important decision from this group of distinguished Singaporeans who were selected to look into the building of an appropriate memorial?" he said.

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Three key issues in the Lee v Lee saga

The Family feud among the Lees is extremely damaging to Singapore

Everyone can see this even if they do not understand all the complew details that have emerged from the sorry saga. PM Lee Hsien Loong recognise this only too well and has apologised to the nation for the grief it caused. The many issues that have been raised can be confusing from the different versions of the will to which lawyer was involved in which deed.

But here's the thing - you do not need to understand every single part of the unfolding drama to know what really matters & is important to S'pore. In fact, you should not let the toing & froing over the details prevent you from getting to the issues of public concern.

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DPM Teo Chee Hean responds to ST editor-at-large about 38 Oxley Road
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has issued a response to The Straits Times editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang

This was after Han wrote an opinion piece in ST on June 21, outlining what he felt were the three key issues surrounding the ongoing Lee family tussle over 38 Oxley Road.

In his piece, Han questioned the rationale of a Ministerial Committee to deal with the 38 Oxley Road house, as well as the somewhat adversarial and legalistic approach of requiring statutory declarations to be made on the part of Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling about the circumstance surrounding Lee Kuan Yew’s writing of his will.

Han also wrote that it is not too late to reverse the decision for a Ministerial Committee to prevent ministers on the committee from being further dragged into the tussle.

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This is DPM Teo’s response in full, published in the Prime Minister’s Office website on the same day as Han’s commentary

Mr Han Fook Kwang in his article “Three key issues in the Lee vs Lee saga” asks about the need to set up a Ministerial Committee. Setting up a Ministerial Committee to study or work on issues is part of normal Cabinet working processes. Even boards of companies set up committees to look into specific issues. He also asked why the issue of what to do with 38 Oxley Road cannot simply be left in the hands of the Founders’ Memorial Committee. Ultimately, it is the Government of the day which has to be responsible for making a decision on the property as this is where the powers reside under the law, specifically the Preservation of Monuments Act and the Planning Act in this case. Mr Han himself acknowledges this. It is therefore incumbent on Cabinet to consider and decide on the issues, and I have decided to set up a committee to assist Cabinet to do so. Cabinet cannot outsource decision-making. But this does not preclude public consultations or the involvement of some memorial committee at an appropriate time. Indeed members of the public have already written in offering suggestions.

Prime Minister Lee has recused himself from government decisions on the property. No decision is required now as Dr Lee Wei Ling continues to live in the house.

Whoever makes a recommendation, the public or some memorial committee, and when Cabinet eventually makes a decision, founding Prime Minister Mr Lee’s thinking is an important factor which we would all want to take into account. The committee invited views from the siblings to understand Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking on this matter. It is only proper that the committee seek their views. Indeed, the Committee had to, since the siblings themselves told us they had different views, and challenged each other’s interpretations of Mr Lee’s wishes. All views were given voluntarily, including those in the form of statutory declarations. Where there were different views, clarifications were sought including the offer for them to be made as statutory declarations. As I have said, the interest of the Committee in Mr Lee’s will is confined to helping us understand his thinking on the matter. This process was conducted through correspondence, and out of the public eye until it was brought out onto a public platform. We should be clear that the difference of views did not arise because there was a Ministerial committee. We still hope that differences of views on private matters can be resolved within the family. But ultimately, the Cabinet of the day and its ministers cannot avoid taking responsibility for making the required decisions on matters where the public interest is involved, and due process is required. Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself understood this and would have expected the government to do so.

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DPM Teo says he set up ministerial committee on 38 Oxley, Hsien Yang labels it 'fundamentally flawed'

Responding to criticisms by Mr Lee Hsien Yang & Dr Lee Wei Ling, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Sat (Jun 17) said there is nothing secretive about the ministerial committee set up to look into the options for 38 Oxley Road.

Providing details on the committee in a media statement, Mr Teo also gave a glimpse of the various options being studied for the property, & reiterated that the Government has the responsibility to "consider the public interest aspects of any property with heritage & historical significance".

The committee was set up by Mr Teo and includes Cabinet members "responsible for heritage, land issues and urban planning" - Culture, Community & Youth Minister Grace Fu, Law Minister K Shanmugam and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

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DPM Teo: 'There is nothing 'secret' about this committee'

Acting Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Saturday (Jun 18) refuted allegations that a ministerial committee considering options for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s house at 38, Oxley Road was “secret”.

In a statement, Mr Teo said:"There is nothing “secret” about this committee." He added that he set up the commitee, which is “like numerous other committees that Cabinet may set up from time to time to consider specific issues”.

Mr Teo noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had recused himself from all government decisions to be taken on 38, Oxley Road after the late Mr Lee died at the age of 91 on Mar 23, 2015. “I chair Cabinet should any deliberations take place on this property,” he said.

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Oxley Road dispute: Cabinet cannot avoid responsibility on matters of public interest, says DPM Teo

Responding to questions on the need for a Ministerial Committee to consider options for 38 Oxley Road, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday (June 21) the Cabinet cannot avoid responsibility on matters of public interest, and due process is needed. He added that setting up such a committee is “part of normal Cabinet working processes”, noting that even company boards form committees to examine issues.

Weighing in on the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings for a second time, Mr Teo also noted that the differences of views over the Lee family’s home did not arise because of the ministerial committee, which he chairs.

“We still hope that differences of views on private matters can be resolved within the family,” Mr Teo said in a statement. “But ultimately, the Cabinet of the day and its ministers cannot avoid taking responsibility for making the required decisions on matters where the public interest is involved, and due process is required. Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself understood this and would have expected the Government to do so,” he added.

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Lee Hsien Yang: No, DPM Teo did not share the options being explored on the house with us
The Lee family’s public feud over the fate of the house on 38 Oxley Road continues

In Hsien Yang’s latest salvo on Tuesday afternoon, he directly contradicted a point made by DPM Teo Chee Hean, who made a statement on Saturday about the Ministerial Committee convened to look into issues regarding 38 Oxley Road.

In particular, it was this point DPM Teo made in his statement:

“The Committee has tasked the relevant agencies to study a range of options for the property. I have shared some of these options with the siblings. For instance, they know that I would personally not support the options at either end of the range: at one end, preserving the House as it is for visitors to enter and see would be totally against the wishes of Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew; and at the other, demolishing the house and putting the property on the market for new private residences. The Committee has also been studying various intermediate options such as demolishing the House but keeping the basement dining room where many important historical meetings took place, with an appropriate heritage centre attached. These studies are ongoing.”

related: LHY reveals 2011 email from LKY saying PM Lee planned to declare house as “heritage site”

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DPM Teo responds to ST’s article, said ministers cannot avoid taking responsibility for making the required decisions on public interest

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has issued a statement in response to an opinion piece by Han Fook Kwang, editor-at-large for Straits Times.

Straits Times earlier published Mr Han's opinion piece, "Three key issues in the Lee vs Lee saga" on Wednesday. The piece asks three pertinent questions in regards to the on-going Lee family saga that have intrigued both local and international community:
  • How involved ministers should be on the issue of the 38 Oxley Road dispute and suggested that the ministers should have stayed clear of the dispute over the will.
  • Do Singaporeans want to know and to participate in the discussion of the saga, given the accusations field by Prime Minister's siblings of him abusing public powers to achieve his personal agenda.
  • How people would want to move forward, beyond the record and achievements of their past leaders.
In his response, DPM Teo addressed to the question of the minister's involvement by saying that the issue of what to do with 38 Oxley Road cannot simply be left in the hands of the Founders’ Memorial Committee and the Cabinet of the day and its ministers cannot avoid taking responsibility for making the required decisions on matters where the public interest is involved.

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38 Oxley Road: DPM Teo, what is your private interest?
Public interest? I did a thought experiment

We saw countless people showed up to say their last good byes to LKY slightly more than two years ago. Imagine with me as you exit parliament house a survey is conducted asking you if you would support tearing down his bungalow 38 Oxley Road because that was what he had repeatedly said publicly he and his wife wanted. Could you say No to him? After all that he had given to us, is a simple request like this too costly for us?

Now imagine many years later when all these are now recorded as history. What would our descendants think of this generation who took the decision to preserve the house? It was a callous generation who could not even grant such a simple request and the value system that went with it as symbolized by his living and leading. That is why I am doing my bit to fight for the last wish of LKY to be honored. It would also be educating future generations right.

I am convinced the public interest is to give LKY what he wanted. Now I must ask the PAP government what is your private interest? I can't imagine any praiseworthy reason they could offer.

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Tharman Shanmugaratnam 22 June at 02:35

Have confidence, folks. I have to say there is no mystery as to why a Ministerial committee was set up to look into the options for 38 Oxley Road. DPM Teo, who chairs Cabinet on matters to do with the house, has explained straightforwardly why he set it up.

We in fact do this often - setting up special committees comprising a group of Ministers. We started the practice many years ago, and it has evolved. It’s how we ensure that important issues are given in-depth attention, and the options are weighed up by the Ministers closer to the issue, before Cabinet makes its decisions and takes collective responsibility. And it’s how we ensure that we are not a Government that operates in silos, that the national interest prevails even when there are valid sectoral or private interests, and that the long view prevails over the short view wherever possible.

That’s a challenge in governance that will never disappear, and is a challenge everywhere in the world. We have never got it perfect in Singapore, and let’s be frank, we’ve had our share of policies that have turned out quite wrong at different points in our history.

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Oh no, Tharman has waded into the Lee family feud

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the man who many Singaporeans regard as Prime Minister material, has waded into the Lee family feud. This was after Tharman put up a Facebook post on June 22, asking Singaporeans to “Have confidence, folks”.

In his post, Tharman sought to assure Singaporeans that Ministerial Committees are as common as air and the public would not know about all of them in their entirety. The crux of his message, though, is that Singapore favours long-term planning, and this set-up involving Ministerial Committees with various ministers putting heads together to sort things out is the legacy the late Lee Kuan Yew left behind.

However, from the public’s perspective, it just looks like the entire Cabinet with the kitchen sink will be thrown into this issue soon, as more ministers look set to come out to have a say in this protracted battle.

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DPM Tharman chips in about the Lee family feud; calls for Singaporeans to have confidence in government
Image result for tharman shanmugaratnam lee family feud

In disconcerting, dramatic times such as these, what we need is the soothing voice of reason by our Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam — the man reluctant to be Prime Minister, despite being the perfect man for it.

Though we initially believed him to be above it all and refrain from diving into the muck that is the current Lee family saga, the man chipped in anyway. Specifically to assure the public that there isn’t any shady business involved with the so-called ‘secretive’ Ministerial Committee.

His remarks arrived in support of fellow deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean, who issued a statement that there’s nothing secret about said committee, which was formed to deliberate on the fate of 38 Oxley Road. It was issued in response to allegations made by the prime minister’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang, who accused PM Lee of setting up a “secret committee” to challenge a clause in his late father’s will that ensured the demolition of the Oxley Road house.

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'No mystery' as to why ministerial committee was set up over 38 Oxley Road issue: Tharman

Ministerial committees are a means of ensuring that important issues are given “in-depth attention”, and is a practice that started many years ago, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Thursday (22 June).

“I have to say there is no mystery as to why a ministerial committee was set up to look into the options for 38 Oxley Road. DPM Teo, who chairs Cabinet on matters to do with the house, has explained straightforwardly why he set it up.”

In a Facebook post, Tharman noted that there are ministerial committees on a whole range of issues, some of which may sit for years, and that he chairs several of them. “They help us think through difficult choices in Government before they come to Cabinet, and to canvas views outside when appropriate,” he said.

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K Shanmugam Sc 17 hrs

Cabinet Committee, Mr Lee Hsien Yang has questioned my being in the Committee chaired by DPM Teo. There are dozens of Cabinet Committees set up on a variety of matters. Some are permanent, some are temporary. Their composition is not public and they report to the Cabinet.

I am well aware of the rules of conflict, having been in practice for over 22 years. The suggestion that I am in conflict is ridiculous. If Mr Lee Hsien Yang seriously believes that I was in conflict, he can get a lawyer to write to me and I will respond. I was already a Cabinet Minister when I spoke with some members of the Lee family -- at their behest -- and gave them my views. They were not my clients. Nothing that I said then precludes me from serving in this Committee.

I am sure most Singaporeans are sick and tired about these endless allegations, which are quite baseless. The government has serious business to attend to relating to the welfare of Singaporeans.

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Singaporeans 'sick and tired of endless' Oxley Road allegations: Shanmugam

Saying that Singaporeans are "sick and tired" about the incessant baseless allegations that have been throw up amid the Lee family dispute, Law Minister K Shanmugam on Sat (Jun 17) pointed out that the Government has serious business to take care of regarding citizens' welfare.

He also hit back at Mr Lee Hsien Yang for questioning his inclusion in the ministerial committee tasked to look at the options for 38 Oxley Road. Mr Shanmugam said he was "well aware" of the rules of conflict of interest, having been a practising lawyer for 22 years. "The suggestion that I am in conflict is ridiculous. If Mr Lee Hsien Yang seriously believes that I was in conflict, he can get a lawyer to write to me and I will respond," Mr Shanmugam said on Facebook.

He pointed out that he was "already a Cabinet Minister" when he spoke with some members of the Lee family, at their behest, & gave them his views. "They were not my clients. Nothing that I said then precludes me from serving in this Committee," he said.

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K Shanmugam challenges Lee Hsien Yang to send him a lawyer’s letter for his response
“I am sure most Singaporeans are sick and tired about these endless allegations, which are quite baseless,”

K Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Minister for Home Affairs has hit back at Lee Hsien Yang over insinuations that his position in the Ministerial Committee is a “conflict of interest having advised Lee Kuan Yew and us on options to help achieve Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes, and the drafting of the demolition wish”.

Shanmugam, in a Facebook post published yesterday (Jun 17), slammed the suggestion, saying it was “ridiculous”. He added, “if Mr Lee Hsien Yang seriously believes that I was in conflict, he can get a lawyer to write to me and I will respond.”

“I am sure most Singaporeans are sick and tired about these endless allegations, which are quite baseless,” “The government has serious business to attend to relating to the welfare of Singaporeans.”

related: ‘Secret’ Ministerial Committee is ‘fundamentally flawed’: Lee Hsien Yang

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38 Oxley Road committee: Suggestion of conflict of interest 'ridiculous', Shanmugam says

Law Minister K Shanmugam on Sat (Jun 17) hit back the suggestion that his inclusion in the ministerial committee on 38 Oxley Road represented a conflict of interest, saying it was "ridiculous".

He was responding to a Facebook post by Mr Lee Hsien Yang, which said that the composition of the committee was "fundamentally flawed".

"Mr Lee Hsien Yang has questioned my being in the Committee chaired by DPM Teo," Mr Shanmugam wrote.

related:
DPM TCH revealed that the committee members included Cabinet ministers
Mr Lee Hsien Yang: Composition of the committee was "fundamentally flawed"
Mr LHY, took issue with Mr Shanmugam's inclusion on the committee

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Minister K Shanmugan challenges Lee Hsien Yang to have a lawyer to write to him for his response

In yet another episode in the ongoing Lee family saga, Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam has just issued a rebuttal on his Facebook page to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's earlier post, noting that there is a clear conflict of interest by the Minister to be involved in the committee formed to deliberate on the government's decision in regards to the property at 38 Oxley Road, where Mr Lee Hsien Yang's late father,  Lee Kuan Yew once lived.

Mr Lee had highlighted that he and his sister were not given the list of the committee when they had asked for it, and were only informed through Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's statement issued on Saturday late afternoon.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had written in his post that he and his sister had expressed specific concerns on the possible membership of Mr K Shanmugam and his conflict of interest having advised Lee Kuan Yew and the two on options to help achieve Lee Kuan Yew's wishes, and the drafting of the demolition wish.

related:
LHY: Information that DPM Teo released what the 2 siblings have been asking for
DPM TCH: Nothing “secret” about the committee formed for 38 Oxley Road
LHY: “We have no confidence in Lee Hsien Loong or his secret committee”
PM Lee’s siblings raise concerns regarding present administration of S'pore

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ESM Goh calls on Singaporeans to urge Lee family to settle Oxley home spat behind closed doors

Singaporeans can urge the Lee family to settle their dispute over 38 Oxley Road "amicably in private or through closed-door arbitration", Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Saturday (Jun 17) as he pointed out that this is "not the family legacy" which their father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, would have wanted to leave behind.

Mr Goh weighed in on the saga for the second time in as many days - and the third government leader to do so on Saturday. "It is not worth tearing up family bonds built over a lifetime over these differences, however serious they are," he wrote on Facebook.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Law Minister K Shanmugam had given their take on the matter, with Mr Teo issuing a media statement to provide details of the ministerial committee tasked to look at the future status of the Lee family home, including its composition, the considerations behind its setting up and the options on the table.

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Oxley Road dispute 'not the family legacy' Lee Kuan Yew would have wanted: ESM Goh

The dispute involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings over their father Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road home is not the family legacy that the founding Prime Minister would have wanted to leave behind, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Saturday (Jun 17).

ESM Goh added that he supports the "careful way" in which Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and the Government is handling the issue as public interests are involved.

He made the comments in a Facebook post in response to DPM Teo's statement that explained the setting up of a ministerial committee to study the options for the Oxley Road house.

related: DPM Teo's statement that explained setting up of a ministerial committee

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Singapore will not be dragged down by Lee family's 'petty disputes', says Goh Chok Tong

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Friday (June 16) weighed in on the Lee family spat over 38 Oxley Road, by urging Singaporeans to "not be dragged down by a family's petty disputes".

Writing on Facebook, Mr Goh noted that Singapore has "prevailed through crises and adversity". "We are a hardy people, built our family and nation from humble beginnings," he wrote.

Mr Goh succeeded founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1990 and handed over the baton to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2004. He added: "What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew's children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are. We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences. Whatever damage Singapore may suffer, willfully inflicted or otherwise, I know Singaporeans will not lay meek… We will always look forward, to fight real battles and create a better future for ourselves and our children."

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EX-PM GOH CHOK TONG WEIGHTS IN: S'PORE WILL NOT BE DRAGGED OWN BY PETTY LEE FAMILY DISPUTE

Singapore has prevailed through crises and adversity. We are a hardy people, built our family and nation from humble beginnings. What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew’s children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are.

We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences. Whatever damage Singapore may suffer, willfully inflicted or otherwise, I know Singaporeans will not lay meek. We will not be dragged down by a family’s petty disputes. We will always look forward, to fight real battles and create a better future for ourselves and our children.

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MParader Yesterday at 15:11


Singapore has prevailed through crises and adversity. We are a hardy people, built our family and nation from humble beginnings. What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew’s children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are. We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences. Whatever damage Singapore may suffer, willfully inflicted or otherwise, I know Singaporeans will not lay meek. We will not be dragged down by a family’s petty disputes. We will always look forward, to fight real battles and create a better future for ourselves and our children.

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MParader Yesterday at 08:11

James Tan With all due respect Mr Goh, I think you missed a point here. This is originally a family dispute, which should have been taken to court to resolve. However, according to the siblings' allegations, PM choose to use the government resources to set up a committee to bull doze the way through.

This allegation, together with other such as abuse of power etc, are serious allegations as it questions the Pm's integrity and his conduct . So this is no longer a petty dispute. As a senior statesman, I think it is important for you to take up the responsibility to initiate an investigation into these allegations, as our country reputation and world standing are now at stake. So if these allegations are false, it can help Pm to clear his name.

PAP ministers and leaders has to stand up and do what is right for the stake of the country. They should speak out and not just close one eye and treat this as a petty family dispute.

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MParader Yesterday at 08:11


Martyn See "We have an understanding that if a minister is defamed and he does not sue, he must leave cabinet."
- Goh Chok Tong, Asiaweek, Dec 3, 1999

http://edition.cnn.com/.../interview/goh.chok.tong/goh3.html
ASIANOW - Asiaweek | Interview: Finally, Being His Own Man | Page 3 | 11/25/99
Goh Chok Tong on Singapore, Asia -- and himself.

EDITION.CNN.COM

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MParader Yesterday at 15:11

Harry Yohannan These are very serious allegations made by siblings who are no ordinary man-in-the-street. The siblings are highly educated, held top positions in both private and public sectors, and have even consulted lawyers before putting out these very, very serious allegations. How can you dismiss such serious allegations as just a petty family dispute ? These serious allegations need to have proper investigations done by the authorities and/or a BOI convened. So, is the government going to conduct an investigation, owing to the very, very serious nature of the allegations by the siblings?

These are your own words reported in Asiaweek in 1999, right ? "But if they've defamed us, we have to sue them -- because if we don't, our own integrity will be suspect. We have an understanding that if a minister is defamed and he does not sue, he must leave cabinet.”. So, is this report true ? Are these your own words ? It would be good to get some verification from you on this, because it was so long ago.

Here are links to the Asiaweek report:
http://www.singapore-window.org/sw99/91203aw.htm
http://edition.cnn.com/.../interview/goh.chok.tong/goh3.html

Since the allegations are far worse than simple defamation, there should more reasons for lawsuits to be filed against the siblings, right ? Else, as what you have mentioned and insisted, the Minister has to leave the Cabinet ??
Singapore:Goh Chok Tong: Finally, being his own man.
Singapore, Justice, Human Rights, Politics, Social issues
SINGAPORE-WINDOW.ORG

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The Independent Singapore Page Liked · 6 hrs near Singapore

"We have an understanding that if a minister is defamed and he does not sue, he must leave cabinet."

- Goh Chok Tong, Asiaweek, Dec 3, 1999

http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/interview/goh.chok.tong/goh3.html

"What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew's children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are. We will not be dragged down by a family's petty disputes."

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1672448012797858&id=182873625088645

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Lawrence Wong 23 June at 02:14 

I plan to speak on this in Parliament on 3 July, and clear the air on the matter, as I was then the Minister in charge of MCCY. But as there are several misperceptions circulating around, I thought it would be better to put out some facts earlier.

The deed of gift relates to items from the estate of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, for use in a major public exhibition by the NHB concerning Singapore’s founding leaders, including our founding Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Such a major public exhibition on our founding leaders is a matter for deliberation by the Government.

It would therefore be normal and in order, that the Prime Minister be kept informed about the contents and presentation of the exhibition. The Prime Minister was given the deed in his official capacity.

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PM Lee was given Deed of Gift in his official capacity: Lawrence Wong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was given the Deed of Gift for Lee Kuan Yew's belongings in his official capacity, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in a Facebook post on Frid (Jun 23).

The Deed of Gift concerns items from the estate of the late founding prime minister, which were loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB) for a memorial exhibition.

The document was signed in Jun 2015 by Mr Lee Hsien Yang & Dr Lee Wei Ling - as executors and trustees of the late Mr Lee's estate - forming an agreement to donate some furniture and personal items belonging to their father from his 38 Oxley Road home to the NHB.

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MND Minister Lawrence Wong: PM Lee given the deed of gift in his official capacity

Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong posted a Facebook post on Friday late afternoon to state that it was normal, and in order, for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to be given the deed in his official capacity.

Just this week, Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY)  posted a letter from PM Lee’s lawyer showing that Mr Lucien Wong, who is PM Lee’s personal lawyer and the current Attorney General, had informed him that his client, PM Lee had received a copy of the Deed of Gift which was earlier denied by him and his sister, LWL on 12 June 2015. According to LHY, it was a matter of just a few hours before Mr Wong, PM’s personal lawyer wrote to inform them, “Our client has since received a copy of the Deed of Gift dated 8 June 2015 from NHB.”

LHY questioned in his post, “Did LHL acquire the Deed of Gift in his public capacity, or his private capacity? If in his public capacity, to use this in his personal legal disputes is a clear abuse of authority. If in his private capacity, how can other private citizens go about acquiring confidential deeds of gift from the NHB?”

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PM Lee Hsien Loong obtained deed of gift for Oxley House items in official capacity: Lawrence Wong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong obtained a deed of gift relating to items from his late father’s estate, which were to be used in a public exhibition by the National Heritage Board, in his official capacity as PM, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (23 June).

“Such a major public exhibition on our founding leaders is a matter for deliberation by the Government. It would therefore be normal and in order, that the Prime Minister be kept informed about the contents and presentation of the exhibition,” said Wong in a Facebook post.

He added that if PM Lee had asked for the information in his private capacity, “he would have been entitled to know about the exhibition and the items from the estate, given his position as the eldest son of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and beneficiary of the estate.”

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Lawrence Wong’s Facebook post tries to dispel controversy about PM Lee’s Deed of Gift

National development minister Lawrence Wong has come out with a Facebook statement in a bid to clarify the circumstances surrounding the Deed of Gift issued by the late Lee Kuan Yew’s estate to the National Heritage board.

The controversy surrounding this issue is that PM Lee had managed to obtain a copy of the Deed not from his siblings, but from the National Heritage Board, wearing his Prime Minister hat.

The crux of this issue, according to Wong in his post, is that PM Lee is wearing two hats — both equally important and justifiable as his right to information.

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Minister Desmond Lee: Lee Kuan Yew’s will need government’s permission first

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee told state media Straits Times today (June 26) that any legal-binding will can easily be override by the “rule of law”:

“The rule of law is something we cherish because we are fortunate to have it. It is about private rights versus the interest of the public. This process is how more than 7,100 buildings are conserved.” Minister Desmond Lee also said that any demolishment work will first need the government’s permission and that the government reserve the right to disallow the demolishment. Citing a factory as example, Minister Desmond Lee said:

“Even though the factory sat on private land, the Government took a stand as it has to represent Singaporeans’ heritage concerns. If the company that owns the building says something like they want to knock it down and do something else there, then there is a process. This process involves the URA’s Conservation Advisory Panel and the National Heritage Board’s Preservation of Sites and Monuments division.”

related: 'Rule of law' followed on heritage decisions: Desmond Lee

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The flawed agenda of the Oxley House Ministerial Committee

I am troubled by the terms of reference for the Oxley House Ministerial Committee.  It looks to me that this Committee may be serving a personal vendetta instead of the public interest. Let me explain - According to a Statement by Cabinet Secretary Mr Tan Kee Yong issued on 14 June 2017, this Committee was set up “to consider the options for 38 Oxley Road (the “House”), and the implications of those options. These included looking into various aspects, including the historical and heritage significance of the House, as well as to consider Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking and wishes in relation to the House.”

According to DPM Teo Chee Hean in his statement release on 17 June 2017, the Government has the responsibility to consider the public interest aspects of any property with heritage and historical significance, and that this applies to the House. - I have no problem with that statement.

But DPM Teo Chee Hean then went on to say: "The Committee has thus been looking at the options available for 38 Oxley Road while paying particular attention to respecting Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes for his house."

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It is inarguable that LKY wanted his house to be demolished

There have been recent PAP efforts to cast doubt on what was LKY's true intention regarding his house at 38 Oxley Road. They have also tried to dispute whether LKY truly knew what he was signing when he signed his Final Will on 17 Dec 2013.

I strongly believe that these efforts are both desperate and disingenuous. (I fully recognise that LKY's wishes are, strictly speaking, unrelated to whether the Government has a right to preserve the house. However, the fact is that convincing Singaporeans that LKY may have been open to his house being demolished is key, for political reasons. They can't be seen to be so explicitly going against LKY's wishes after all).

I am moved to write this note partly because I have intelligent and well-educated friends who are being hoodwinked. There is no doubt in my mind (and I say this with the utmost objectivity) that LKY definitely wanted his house to be demolished. We can have a discussion on whether his house should be preserved (for various reasons such as heritage etc) notwithstanding his wishes, but what his wishes actually were is inarguable:

  • The Final Will was executed on 17 Dec 2013. This is a full 21 months before LKY passed away. There was no suggestion that he did not have full command of his faculties at the time. LKY was also serving as an MP at the time.
  • LHL and others have brought up the fact that it took "just 15 minutes" for the entire signing of the will and that therefore LKY may not have been properly advised. The will is a mere 4 pages long, and was something LKY was familiar with. LKY's assistant was present throughout the signing, according to the meeting notes of the lawyers/witnesses.
  • As LHY also pointed out, I find it bordering on the ridiculous to suggest that LKY (!!!), a cambridge-trained lawyer, had to be advised on the contents of his will, which he signed on every page and also initialed right below the demolition clause.
  • LHY quoted an email dated 16 Dec 2013  from LKY stating "OK. Do not wait for Kim Li. Engross and I will sign it before a solicitor in Fern's office, or from any other office". This is one day before he actually signed the Final Will. It appears to me that LKY knew exactly what he was doing. It would also not be a leap to assume that he was replying to an email containing the final draft of the will since he uses the word "engross", which lawyers often use when okaying a draft.
  • When the final draft had been executed, it was given to Kwa Kim Li for safekeeping. Kwa is a very senior lawyer and managing partner of Lee & Lee. It would not a be a stretch to assume that she would have at the very least glanced through the Final Will and perhaps confirmed verbally with LKY that he really knew what he was doing, especially if she had any suspicion that LKY was not in full command of his faculties.

Now let's also look at the surrounding circumstances:-

  • LKY himself said publicly several times that he wanted the house to be demolished upon his death.
  • LHL himself acknowledged in a private email dated 12 April 2015 timed at 7.02 pm (this would have been after the Final Will had been read to the family on the same day) that LKY's position "has been consistent throughout. Even his note to [Cabinet] did not say that he wanted it preserved, only what has to be done if it is not to be demolished".
  • LHL also acknowledge publicly on 13 April 2015 that "Mr Lee's position on 38 Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values".  

Both (b) and (c) took place way after the Final Will had been signed and also after the Final Will was read to the family on 12 April 2015. If he truly had suspicions, why did LHL not suggest earlier that LKY did not want the house to be demolished? Why is the PAP now trying so hard to convince Singaporeans that LKY might not have really wanted his house demolished? The only reason I can think of is that they need popular support to demolish the house without losing too much political capital. Any other suggestions?

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OPINION: Lees behaving badly

You might remember last week we looked at former President Sergio Osmeña and how he lived to a ripe old age, dying in 1961. Let’s return to him for a moment, because Yet his sunset years was marred by a family quarrel that went public. In 1953-54, his son, Sergio Osmeña Jr., tried to have him declared mentally incompetent in an argument over his father’s will leaving most of the estate to his wife. A man can live his life in greatness, but as Charles de Gaulle famously remarked, “old age is a shipwreck,” for everyone. And the tales of the powerful include the destruction of family harmony in the old age, or upon the death, of the family patriarch.

This is the case in Singapore, where the family of the late Lee Kwan Yew has gone public with a fight over inheritance. The cast is a mind-boggling one: all three of LKY’s children, the eldest of whom happens to be prime minister, and the other two, respected individuals in their own right. The cause of the problem is a familiar one: anger and resentment between siblings over their parent’s will. Lee Kwan Yew by all accounts, made seven wills over his long life. Most of them, including his last one, specified that his house should be demolished after his death. The problem was that two of his wills did not specify the demolition of his house, a modest bungalow near Orchard Road which he acquired in 1945, which became not only his family home, but the nerve center for the leadership of the party that has ruled Singapore since independence.

In contrast to nearly all of Southeast Asia’s founding fathers, Lee Kwan Yew was uninterested in memorializing himself. The only monument to himself he allowed during his lifetime was an institution –the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He seems to have genuinely opposed the idea of his home turning into some sort of national shrine after his death.

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Blogger: LKY wills did not specify demolition of house

An unnamed blogger in a post published on ABS-CBN wrote the problem in the Lee family’s public battle over Lee Kuan Yew’s (LKY) inheritance was that two of the Singapore’s forefather’s “wills did not specify the demolition of his house.”

However, the blog post said: It seems he (LKY) felt sorry for his neighbors who, during his long political career, could never build up their properties for security reasons.

Demolishing his house would give the neighbors a big financial benefit by being able to develop their properties at last.

“That’s the mark of a considerate man. But there would be a financial benefit, too, for the children: one estimate pegs the value of the property at 24 million Singapore dollars. Making possible such a windfall is the mark of a pragmatic man.”

The blogger said the modest bungalow near Orchard Road which Lee acquired in 1945, became not only his family home, but the nerve center for the leadership of the party that has ruled Singapore since independence.

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Lee family’s dispute has nothing to do with Singaporeans

Singapore woke up to the public fight between all 3++ of you. Now dysfunctional families are common. So are fights between siblings. These are usually amplified after the last parent passes away. Most of us keep it in within families; occasionally when it involves money, it ends up in court. Now, family fights are usually none of anybody’s business except the family members involve – and it’s usually complicated and complex and there are sides which relatives take, and outsiders don’t because it’s none of our business.

Except now you’ve made it every Singaporean’s business by taking it public and airing your grievances in such a manner. This is now no longer a private matter, not just a Lee Family matter; it’s not even a public spectacular – more importantly it has now become a Singapore and Singaporean matter. Singapore does not belong to the Lees. Even though Singapore was Lee Kuan Yew’s love and his legacy, and Singapore is defined by him, it still does not make Singapore his or his family’s. By dragging this into the public arena in such a manner, you are dragging Singaporeans not just into it by taking sides, but you are dragging Singapore down at time when we can ill-afford it. China, terrorism, state of the economy, leadership problems – Singapore is facing numerous issues which needs urgent attention. We cannot afford to lose investors confidence or a stock market crash.

So fight if you must, it’s your family’s prerogative – but you are now dragging Singaporeans into it, plus dragging Singapore’s reputation and Lee Kuan Yew, our past Prime Minister; not just your father; into this whole public fracas. It will affect Singapore – not just your family. While concerns in the letter are possibly valid, this public avenue does not benefit anyone and will affect Singapore most. Your father put Singapore first and foremost above everything – you might like to do the same.

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Squabbling Lees Highlight Singapore’s Dynastic Dilemma
Squabbling Lees Highlight Singapore’s Dynastic Dilemma

An extraordinary dispute within Singapore’s ruling family broke into the open on June 14. Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang — the two younger children of the late Lee Kuan Yew — posted a message on Facebook accusing their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, of subverting their father’s last will and testament by avoiding the demolition of the family home.

More seriously for the public interest, they accused Lee Hsien Loong of abusing his position to achieve this end and of trying to engineer a dynastic succession whereby his son Li Hongyi would enter politics as a third generation of Lees. They are particularly concerned that Hsien Loong’s personal solicitor possessed and was using documents that had been made available only to the National Heritage Board for the purposes of organizing a commemorative display.

As a result of this episode, the Lee siblings have discovered to their horror that there are no checks and balances on the power of the prime minister and that the Singaporean press is meek and timid. They seem to think that they are the first to have noticed this. So fearful are the Lee siblings of their elder brother that Lee Hsien Yang.

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Singapore's Family Feud: A 'Secret Committee' and the Problem of Due Process

It’s been a dizzying week-and-a-half for Singaporeans earnestly following the ins and outs of the Lee family feud on social media. Side-stepping the mainstream media – which they see as controlled by their elder brother’s government – the younger Lee siblings have been dropping accusations and nuggets of information daily, as if the entire saga were a serial novel.

There are petty insinuations flying from all sides, but none of them should distract from the troubling issues related to due process that have been surfaced by this dispute. One of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang’s core accusations have been that their brother, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has misused his power to get his own way. While their father Lee Kuan Yew has been public with his desire for his home at 38 Oxley Road to be demolished upon his death, the younger siblings claim that Lee Hsien Loong wishes to preserve the home instead, so as to reap the political capital one could get from riding on the much-revered Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy.

It’s since been revealed that an internal ministerial committee – or a “secret committee,” as Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang have been calling it – has been convened to consider the issue of what to do with 38 Oxley Road. The existence of such a committee is a little surprising, considering that the government had previously stated that, since Lee Wei Ling is still living at Oxley Road, there is no need for any immediate decision regarding the house.

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Lee Kuan Yew's last will made upon his 'express instruction', says younger son
FILE PHOTO: A view of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road residence in Singapore June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

The prime minister said he had recused himself from all government decisions regarding the house, and in his personal capacity, would also like to see Lee Kuan Yew's wish honored.

His brother Lee Hsien Yang said on Saturday Lee Kuan Yew's final will was engrossed on the basis of Lee Kuan Yew's "express instruction" to revert to his first will, attaching to the statement what appeared to be an email message from Lee Kuan Yew that states his plan to sign it before a solicitor.

"Lee Kuan Yew's final will was simply Lee Kuan Yew's first will of 20 Aug 2011 re-executed on his instruction," Lee Hsien Yang said on his Facebook

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Lee Hsien Yang defends final will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, says his father gave 'express instruction' to revert to first version

More questions have emerged over the final will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, after his younger son Hsien Yang asserted that his father gave "express instruction" for the last will to follow the first version.

In a FacebBook post on Saturday (Jun 17), Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote: "Lee Kuan Yew's final will in December 2013 was engrossed on the basis of his express instruction to revert to his first will from 2011."

He added that his father's final will "was simply Lee Kuan Yew's first will of Aug 20, 2011, re-executed on his instructions".

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Lee Kuan Yew's last will 'final & legally binding': Lee Hsien Yang

The last will made by Mr Lee Kuan Yew is "final & legally binding", Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the youngest son of Singapore's founding Prime Minister said on Thursday (Jun 15), after his elder brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he had "grave concerns" about how their father's last will was prepared.

At issue, in particular, was the removal & subsequent re-insertion of a clause stating the late Mr Lee's wish that his house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished after his death, PM Lee noted in a statutory declaration he submitted to a ministerial committee set up to consider the future of the house. The statutory declaration was made public by PM Lee's lawyers earlier Thursday evening.

In response, the younger Mr Lee noted that his brother had "raised no legal challenge to Lee Kuan Yew's will in the many months after it was read". "Probate was granted in October 2015, so the will is full, final, & legally binding," Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the statutory declaration was made public.

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Will may be challenged after grant of probate, say lawyers

Can you challenge the validity of a will after probate has been granted?
  • Mr Lee Kuan Yew's younger son, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, maintains that his father's will - which is at the centre of a dispute between him and his older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - is "final and legally binding" as no challenge was lodged.
  • Lawyers whom The Straits Times spoke to said that six months, as spelt out in the Wills Act, is a guideline, but a challenge beyond that is possible depending on the reasons.
  • "If it's after the six months, you have got to give special reasons and it is at the court's discretion," said Dr G. Raman, a veteran probate lawyer.
  • This is the legal process of probate, when the concerned parties prove in court that a will is a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased.
  • Probate for the late Mr Lee's will was granted on Oct 6, 2015.

Lawyers suggest that if new evidence surfaces, it is still possible to mount a challenge.

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Indranee Rajah Yesterday at 07:06

How many Wills did Mr Lee make and what's the difference between them?

Mr Lee made 7 Wills:
  • 1st Will - this had a Demolition Clause. Each child got an equal share of the estate.
  • 2nd - 4th Wills - these had the Demolition Clause.
  • 5th Will - Demolition Clause was removed.
  • 6th Will - No Demolition Clause. Dr Lee Wei Ling was given an extra share of the estate relative to her brothers.
  • 7th Will - Demolition Clause reinserted. The extra share for Dr Lee Wei Ling removed. It reverted back to equal shares for each child.
The first 6 will were prepared by Ms Kwa Kim Li of M/S Lee & Lee.

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