TL;DR – One must really wonder what has happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s values.
If you’re Singaporean, you surely must have read or heard about the sordid turn the FamiLee saga took. In fact, even if you aren’t Singaporean, or don’t stay in Singapore, chances are, you would have heard about it.
We wonder what foreigners reading the news would think about Singapore now. Would they really think that PM Lee abuses his power for personal gain? Would their confidence in Singapore be shaken? What sort of deeper impact would that have on Singapore?
That’s why we think it’s important to critically scrutinise the claims that Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang have made.
1. Did PM Lee abuse his power?
One part hidden in the siblings’ six-page statement caught our attention:
“We executed a Deed of Gift in 2015 with the National Heritage Board for the donation and public exhibition of significant items from our parents’ home, with a stipulation that Lee Kuan Yew’s wish for the demolition of 38 Oxley Road be displayed prominently at the exhibition. However, after the gift’s acceptance we soon received letters with spurious objections from Hsien Loong’s then personal lawyer, Lucien Wong… We were shocked to see that Hsien Loong had used his position as Prime Minister to obtain a copy of the Deed of Gift from Minister Lawrence Wong, which Hsien Loong then passed to his personal lawyer to advance his personal agenda.”
It’s not surprising that PM Lee got a copy of the Deed of Gift. After all, he’s the PM. All the Ministers report to him. Minister Wong probably informed PM Lee about the Deed of Gift and the process of planning for the exhibition.
But we are uncomfortable with the claim that PM passed that Deed of Gift on to his personal lawyer, who then in turn used it to send legal letters to Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang. That does seem like PM Lee used his official capacity to obtain a document which he otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and used that document for his own purposes.
We don’t know if the claims are true. We can’t ascertain if things transpired as what Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang claimed. But if their claims are true, then it’s really worrying, because that really comes dangerously close to abuse of power.
2. Is PM Lee using LKY’s legacy to strengthen his position?
But why would PM Lee abuse his power? The siblings’ letter put forth two reasons. First, the siblings claim that PM Lee draws his political power from being Lee Kuan Yew’s son. Second, they claim that PM Lee harbours political ambitions for his son, Li Hongyi.
The siblings further claim that PM Lee’s “popularity is inextricably linked to Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy”. That’s why, the siblings alleged, PM Lee wants Lee Kuan Yew’s house to be preserved. That would serve as a physical representation of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy. The siblings then made the assertion that that would somehow enhance PM Lee’s political capital. They also insinuated that this would in turn translate to setting up PM Lee’s son, Hongyi, to succeed PM Lee as Singapore’s next prime minister.
While it’s true that many Singaporeans hold Lee Kuan Yew in high regard, but would Singaporeans really vote for PAP because of some deluded reverence of Lee Kuan Yew regardless of PM Lee’s actual performance as a leader?
I don’t think so.
3. What were the motivations of PM Lee’s siblings?
Their letter said:
“We have seen a completely different face to our brother, one that deeply troubles us. Since the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, on 23 March 2015, we have felt threatened by Hsien Loong’s misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government and its agencies to drive his personal agenda… We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern. The situation is such that Hsien Yang feels compelled to leave Singapore.”
When TODAY interviewed Lee Hsien Yang about the letter and whether he could say more about how the organs of state were used to threaten him, this was what he said:
“The cabinet has just put out a note and talked about some of the things. What is the cabinet committee doing on 38 Oxley Road notwithstanding our settlement with Loong? Why is there even a Cabinet committee when PM Lee (Hsien Loong) had announced in Parliament that so long as (younger sister) Wei Ling is living there, nothing needs to be done? Why when the Government says the government of the day will decide when Lee Wei Ling is no longer (living there) … is the Government of today convening this Cabinet committee?”
Well, I guess it doesn’t really take a lot to scare them.
A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office about the “Cabinet committee” revealed that:
“The Committee has made clear to Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang (in response to a query from them) that the Government has no intention of doing anything with the House as long as Dr Lee Wei Ling continues to reside there. The Committee will be listing out the different options with regard to the House and the implications. This will help a future Government when a decision needs to be taken about the House.”
Also that statement emphasised:
“The Prime Minister has not been involved in Cabinet’s discussions concerning this Committee.”
So what exactly is so threatening about this committee that would make the Lee Hsien Yang feel compelled to leave Singapore?
Whatever happened to nation before self?
In the letter, the siblings said:
“Lee Kuan Yew’s sole focus was on Singapore and its future.”
That’s something we definitely agree with. Lee Kuan Yew isn’t perfect. He had his faults. But we are convinced that in everything he did, he placed nation before self. In advancing the interests of Singapore, he was fearless. Nothing scared him. Not even the CIA. Those were some of his values that made the world respect him so much.
By publishing the letter, it seems that the siblings have lost those values.
And all this for what? Just so that they can air their personal grievance over the handling of Lee Kuan Yew’s house. That is truly disappointing.
And embarrassing too.