PM Lee rebuts Lee Hsien Yang: I did not deceive my father

LKY understood PM Lee's honest assessment that the house would be gazetted.

Chan Cheow Pong| July 04, 04:47 PM

The feuding Lee brothers are a long way from reconciliation and the family saga is unlikely to end soon.

In his closing speech in Parliament on July 4, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong rebutted -- in a span of a few hours -- his brother Lee Hsien Yang's latest allegations that "convoluted, and ultimately false" claims were made about the wishes of their father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

PM Lee denied that he deceived his father LKY over the fate of the house at 38 Oxley Road.

Responding to questions in Parliament on July 4, PM Lee made clear that his father understood the assessment that the house would be gazetted.

"The simple answer is that I did not deceive my father.

I explained to you yesterday how my father’s primary wish on the house had always been clear – he always wanted it knocked down. Where my siblings and I differ is on whether my father was prepared to consider alternatives should demolition not be possible

After his meeting with the Cabinet on 21 July 2011, Mr Lee asked me for my view of what the Government would do with the house after he died.

I gave him my honest assessment. I told him, you have met the Cabinet and heard the Ministers’ views. If I chaired the Cabinet meeting, this being the view of the Ministers and the public, in all likelihood, I would have to agree that the house be gazetted. And if I was not PM then and did not chair Cabinet, all the more likely the house would be gazetted.

He understood."

Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) wrote to the cabinet three times to express his wishes on 38 Oxley Road.

The first time was after the passing of his wife Kwa Geok Choo in 2010.

After retiring from the Cabinet, he met Cabinet members for the second time on July 20, 2011, to reiterate his wish to knock down the house.

The ministers were unanimous in expressing their opposition to knocking the house down. PM Lee did not express a view, because he was both the son and PM.

In August 2011, about a month after the Cabinet meeting, LKY willed 38 Oxley Road to PM Lee as part of the share of his estate, and told the family.

PM Lee shared emails which his wife Ho Ching had sent to keep the whole family informed of their plans and no objections were raised.

"Ho Ching and I knew my father’s wishes and also my mother’s feelings on the house. We wanted to address their concerns should demolition not be allowed. We came up with a proposal to renovate the house to change the inside completely, to demolish the private spaces...

The conservation plan was done honestly and openly, not on false pretences"

Top photo from PMO/ Rolls Royce