We explain the Lee family saga like you’re 5 years old, because they seem to be acting like it

This is probably just the beginning.

By Nyi Nyi Thet | June 17, 2017

Plenty of people have been asking us for a TL;DR of PM Lee’s almost 4000-word essay, as well as his two siblings’ six-page statement that preceded it.

And plenty of people have also been rather confused by the very public back-and-forth bombs being dropped by Singapore’s most powerful family, even as the saga plays out for all of us to see on Facebook.

We’ve been tracking this here on Mothership.sg, blow-by-blow, but we understand that’s because unlike most of you, we have nothing better to do we’re helpful that way.

So you asked, we deliver. Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening up to this point, Mothership.sg-style:

What’s happening.

Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) and Lee Wei Ling (LWL) want to demolish the house on 38 Oxley Road, to honour Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes.

Lee Hsien Loong also personally wants to destroy it, but feels it should be left to due process to decide if it should be torn down.

That’s cool, let’s just leave them to figure this ou…


LWL and LHY coordinate Facebook posts slamming PM on what they consider an infringement of power. (LHY creates a Facebook page specifically for this purpose)

They point to a secret council (Ministerial Committee) being used to justify not tearing down the house.

They are also incredibly saddened by this whole thing.

PM Lee responds

PM Lee, who’s on vacation, is shocked that this private matter was taken to the court of public opinion.

He promises to elaborate once he gets back.

He’s also deeply saddened.

So, cool, let’s wait till Saturday to see if….


LHY and LWL posted an infographic detailing how LHL was inconsistent in his position about the fate of the family home.

Their chief concern being how LHL had in public, claimed Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) was unwavering in his belief that the site should be torn down.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

But in statements to the committee, he questioned whether LKY even knew of the demolition clause being added to his final will.

Hmmm, if only we had some sort of edited summary of what LHL told the committee in his statutory declarations, perhaps in an easily shareable forma…


LHL, while still on vacation in New Zealand, felt it was essential to reply to his siblings.

“I have therefore asked my lawyers to release this edited summary of what I have told the Committee on this matter in my statutory declarations.”

Here’s a visual representation of his letter.

He acknowledged that he did raise concerns about the execution of their father’s final will.

But he had his reasons.

Namely these:

1. Final will was allegedly drafted by Lee Suet Fern (LSF) instead of Lee & Lee’s Kwa Kim Li (who wrote the first six), which LHL felt might be a conflict of interest because of LSF’s relationship with LWL.

2. In that vein, he questioned LSF’s involvement in the drafting of the final will.

3. He claimed LKY might not have had the chance to read the new draft, or fully understand the final will.

This is the last sentence of his rather lengthy summary.

“In light of the troubling circumstances set out above, I believe it is necessary to go beyond the Last Will in order to establish what Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking and wishes were in relation to the House.”

So basically PM Lee’s response to whether LKY meant for the demolition clause to be in the will is this.

And that was the end of this weird chapter for Singapore.

Nope. Plot twist.

LHY came up with a rebuttal a mere 30 minutes after LHL’s lawyer letter was posted on Facebook.

This is a visual representation of his response.

He targeted PM’s statement, which seemed to imply that LKY might not have completely been aware of the demolition clause.

“Does he or does he not believe that Lee Kuan Yew was unwavering in his wish that the house be demolished? Is his statement to Parliament false, or is his statement under oath false?”

Now, if only he had some proof, perhaps an alphabetical representation of acknowledgement that Lee Kuan Yew understood the…


LHY posted a picture of LKY signing underneath the demolition clause:

Accompanied with this one liner.

“How could Lee Kuan Yew not know when he initialled right beneath the Demolition Clause, and LHL has the will?”

Now how?

There were small snippets of drama here and there with mainstream media getting a quote by Kwa Kim Li saying she didn’t prepare the final draft.

But that was countered by Lee Hsien Yang who claimed the final will was basically the first will (in 2011).

However, he also admitted to a slight difference between the first and final will as the latter was done “without realising that a gift over clause had been in the executed version of the 2011 will.” (The gift over clause provided that in any event any of his sons predeceased him, their share will go directly to Lee Kuan Yew’s grandchildren)

It seems nothing can truly be done till PM gets back from the worst vacation ever.

Here’s the thing though.

ALL this drama that we summarised is mainly predicated on whether LKY wanted the demolition clause in his will.

Which is, like, the least controversial aspect of this whole situation!

And if the most obvious part generates this much exhaustion and dread, then this might be a very exhausting 2017.


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About Nyi Nyi Thet

Thet has a chronic fear of teenage girls laughing at him. He sometimes puts on a cap in his room and yells “Gryffindor”.

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