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Lee Hsien Yang: I ask for your patience – I am only a man working to honour his father’s wishes

He cannot give statement in Parliament, therefore he writes a letter.

Chan Cheow Pong | July 1, 2017 @ 08:50 pm

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After igniting what is the greatest political controversy in Singapore in recent memory, self-confessed social media novice Lee Hsien Yang posted a three page letter on his own facebook page seeking to explain to Singaporeans his actions and goals.

Written in a tone that sounded like he felt compelled to explain himself, he also adopted a distinctively gentler voice compared to his previous posts, saying in the fourteen paragraph letter that he “is only a man working to honour his father’s wishes”.

This comes ahead of the parliament sitting next Monday (July 3), during which his eldest brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will deliver a ministerial statement to refute the allegations he made on facebook on June 14.

Like many of us, if you feel like you can no longer keep up with the almost daily utterances of Lee Hsien Yang or his sister Lee Wei Ling, here is the tl;dr version:

1. They were pushed to bring the issue into the open because of the “secret” Cabinet Committee

As we sought to remind people of Singapore our father’s last wish, we encountered opposition every step of the way. It became clear that we faced a vast and coordinated effort by Hsien Loong against us. He did not want our father’s wishes remembered or carried out.

It was a difficult decision, but we were pushed into a corner. We have to stand up and fight for our parents even if means bringing things into the public sphere as a last resort.

2. He is just trying to honour his father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes

I am just a son trying to honour my father’s final wish: to demolish my father’s house immediately when my sister, Wei Ling, no longer lives there.

3. Claims that PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching opposed to demolition of the house due to personal political agenda

He (Hsien Loong) wished to rewrite history to claim that Lee Kuan Yew “accepted” the preservation of his house. Hsien Loong was ready to use his power and influence to thwart our father’s wishes, to meet Hsien Loong‘s and Ho Ching’s personal political agenda.

4. He has no plans to redevelop Oxley Road house into a condominium for profit

It has been insinuated that I seek to redevelop Oxley road house into a condominium for financial profit after buying it at 150% market price. Beyond zero uncertainty on timing and the ability to demolish, this requires both rezoning by the URA and cooperation with the neighbours. I have no inclination to seek either of these.

5. Suggestions to demolish the house and planting a memorial garden were refused by PM Lee.

6. Recognise that the Government has power to gazette the house

Our father, and we too, recognise that the Government has the power to gazette the house – no man stands above the law after all. We are simply very sad that it is in fact Hsien Loong using powers and instruments of the state to achieve preservation of the house for his personal agenda, whilst pretending to be an honourable son.


If you think you can still afford the time, you can read his full post below:

Since the episode involving my parents’ house became publicised, my sister, Wei Ling and I have taken to social media to reach the people of Singapore. We have no other access. Please let me step back and introduce myself, so that Singaporeans know where I am coming from.

I am the youngest child of Lee Kuan Yew. I have an elder brother Hsien Loong and elder sister Wei Ling.

I am a private individual who has always avoided public attention. I am not a politician, and I have never desired to be one. When I reach out to Singaporeans, please bear in mind that I am a novice. I have neither brigades of staff nor teams to back me up. Indeed, until this episode occurred, I have never posted on Facebook. As such, I ask for your patience – I am only a man working to honour his father’s wishes.

Why

Many have asked why Wei Ling and I have felt compelled to bring these issues before the people of Singapore. They ask why I have made public a huge national controversy. The answer is that we were pushed by Hsien Loong’s secret cabinet committee.

Growing up in Lee Kuan Yew’s family was a unique experience. My father, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, was a powerful and influential man. My mother too, though she avoided the public eye, was herself a very principled woman. For all these privileges afforded by my parents, they always taught us to act with integrity and to always do the right thing. This was an inviolable value of theirs.

When my father died, the issue of carrying out both my parent’s wishes for their house came up. Our father firmly believed that demolition of his house was the right thing for Singapore. He believed Singapore needed to focus on her future and not on monuments. My father named my sister and his executors, and with it came his expectation and trust that we ensure his wishes are honoured. Unfortunately, our brother, Hsien Loong, and his wife Ho Ching, have in private vehemently opposed demolition.

As we sought to remind people of Singapore our father’s last wish, we encountered opposition every step of the way. It became clear that we faced a vast and coordinated effort by Hsien Loong against us. He did not want our father’s wishes remembered or carried out; he wished to rewrite history to claim that Lee Kuan Yew “accepted” the preservation of his house. Hsien Loong was ready to use his power and influence to thwart our father’s wishes, to meet Hsien Loong‘s and Ho Ching’s personal political agenda.

At that point, I could have said to myself, “This is too big for me. This political world is not my world. I could just let events take their course. This is not worth it.” It would have been easy to keep my head down – why risk public outcry, suffer campaigns or character assassinations, or even exile? But doing the right thing is rarely easy.

I am not a perfect human being. But I do my best to act with honour and integrity expected of me by our parents. Their view on demolition of their house was unwavering. I know what they wanted, and as executors of our father’s will, my sister and I have a legal duty to carry out his wishes, instead of allowing them to be perverted by sophistry and machinations. It was a difficult decision, but we were pushed into a corner. We have to stand up and fight for our parents even if means bringing things into the public sphere as a last resort.

My Goal

Since these events became public, many have reached out to me. Some have scolded me for disrupting the status quo. Others have offered words of encouragement and support. But both groups often ponder what I hope to achieve through all this.

I am just a son trying to honour my father’s final wish: to demolish my father’s house immediately when my sister, Wei Ling, no longer lives there. In the meantime, to ensure her the unfettered rights to live in the only home she knows as long as she should wish. Ling, being unmarried and without children of her own, stayed there with Papa and helped looked after him in his final years. It was our father’s wish that she should be permitted to stay in the original house for as long as she wanted.

It has been insinuated that I seek to redevelop Oxley Road house into a condominium for financial profit after buying it at 150% market price. Beyond zero uncertainty on timing and the ability to demolish, this requires both rezoning by the URA and cooperation with the neighbours. I have no inclination to seek either of these. Preservation of the house would be trampling on Lee Kuan Yew’s values, and it would be an affront to these same values to develop a luxury “LKY” condominium. The price I paid for the house was simply a price I paid to help ensure my father’s wishes are honoured.

Wei Ling may live in Oxley Road for decades to come. I simply hope to ensure our father’s wishes are honoured when the day comes. Since I cannot predict the timing or whether the government will even permit us to demolish the house, it is impossible to play beyond that point. We suggested options such as demolishing the house and planting a memorial garden, but Hsien Loong has staunchly refused.

Our father, and we too, recognise that the Government has the power to gazette the house – no man stands above the law after all. We are simply very sad that it is in fact Hsien Loong using powers and instruments of the state to achieve preservation of the house for his personal agenda, whilst pretending to be an honourable son.

Top photo from Getty Image

About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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