FamiLEE Feud- Minus the Smokescreens

Wah, so much to catch up on! I go away for almost one week and the battle at 38 Oxley Road continues unabated. Thank god, the wifi was weak in our Bali resort and I don’t have to follow the embarrassing blow-by-blow accounts.

Now if my reading of the piled up articles are correct, here are the real questions and key points we need to focus on. Forget all the smokescreens that have been cleverly thrown up.

The house issue in 3 paragraphs

LKY wanted the house demolished. That’s his personal wish. But he accepted that the Government might preserve it for historic reasons against his wishes. This is documented in his wills and his letter to Cabinet.

PM personally also agrees the house should be demolished. But he can’t abuse his power as the head of government to grant his father’s wishes. We need a proper procedure to decide if it is indeed a heritage site.

Right now, the Government has said it is not going to decide one way or another. The Ministerial Committee already stated publicly that it will just list options for decision by a future government – for all you know with Nicole Seah as PM. The decision point will only come when Lee Wei Ling leaves or dies, maybe not for another 20, 30 years.

See? It’s really not that complex.

What does Hsien Yang want? 

So what is Lee Hsien Yang complaining about? Why is he insisting on getting a promise that the house will be demolished eventually? In short, what is the motive for all the fuss?

Remember, PM offered to sell Wei Ling the house for $1, with the condition that she cannot profit from any eventual demolition. But she rejected the condition. PM had to sell it to Hsien Yang without that condition. If all the younger siblings wanted was the demolition and to honour their father’s wishes, why not accept the initial offer? Wei Ling has also publicly said that Hsien Yang doesn’t want to donate proceeds if the house is sold.

A “demolition promise” will raise the redevelopment value of the house. If the land is sold to a rich PRC developer who can eventually demolish the house and build a condominium, how much money will Hsien Yang make?

Even if that’s true, why is he doing it in this way, through public accusations? What’s more, he keeps throwing up issues not related to the house, like Ho Ching’s character. My view is simple: Political pressure, especially with the Presidential Elections coming up. They’ve threatened to politically blackmail PM before (as sworn by PM under oath and not denied by them), looks like they’re following through on their threats now.

Another reason could be that they know they won’t get their way in a fair impartial consideration. Tellingly, PM has sworn his side of the story under oath. But when the Committee asked Hsien Yang and Wei Ling to do so, they didn’t. Even if they suspected corruption in the Ministerial Committee, they could have given statutory declarations, then used that as a basis to go public. Their refusal to swear their story under oath looks suspicious to me.

And in fact, many of the accusations have already been proven false. Hsien Yang saying that Kwa drafted the last will, and that Ho Ching took LKY’s items when he was sick. The truth is, his wife herself said her firm drafted the will, which might be a conflict of interest and call into question the validity of the will. And Ho Ching lent out the items with PM’s approval, stressing that they need to be returned to the estate. But when the lies are called out, more diversions follow to confuse the public.

So put aside the political blackmail, and you’ll see the true motives. Hopefully instead of whatever personal motives, the interests of most Singaporeans will prevail.

Common Lies about Oxley 38

When I look at what people are saying on Facebook, it’s obvious many have bought into lies about this feud. So here’s the naked truth.

And as always with lies, think about who stands to gain from spreading them!

 

  1. Lie: LHL wants to preserve the house

Truth: LHL personally wants to honour his father’s wishes (i.e. demolish the house). In his declaration to the committee, he just raised questions about how the last will was prepared, and the conflict of interest in LHY and wife being involved in the preparation. This is to clarify what LKY’s true wishes were.

By the way, the house was bequeathed to LHL alone. If he had wanted from the start to preserve it, he need not have sold it to LHY.

 

  1. Lie: Preserving it will help LHL build a political dynasty

Truth: LHL wants to retire soon. His son Hongyi is not interested in politics, despite LWL and LHY’s claims. What political dynasty?

 

  1. Lie: LKY wanted it demolished and that’s that

Truth: LKY’s wishes are disputed. But even if they were not, the government has the right to disregard any landowner’s wishes and preserve the house for its heritage value.

If the government could not overrule rich scions who want to demolish heritage buildings to build condos, what would become of our heritage?

 

  1. Lie: Committee wants to preserve it

Truth: The Ministerial Committee will NOT make any decision about the house. They will simply collect information from all involved and list down the options for a future government. Since the decision will only take place when LWL moves out, the future government will probably not be led by LHL, and may not be a PAP government at all.

Why now? It’s like an investigation- they need to collect the facts as soon as possible, before memories get hazy.

 

  1. Lie: The Committee is on LHL’s side

Truth: What side, when LHL himself wants to demolish the house?

LHL is not involved in the Committee. It consists of DPM Teo Chee Hean and the Ministers in charge of heritage (Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu), land issues (Minister for Law K. Shanmugam, whose Ministry includes SLA) and urban planning (Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong).

Where are the heritage fighters now?

I couldn’t help noticing that many opposition figures are applauding Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang’s bid to demolish the Oxley Road house.

These are the same people who want to preserve a flea market right in the city centre. Who want to preserve the graves of slave-owning landowners. Who want old people to keep living in flats that aren’t accessible by lift.

But two wealthy individuals can demolish the house where Singapore’s independence was formulated. Forgo all the future tourist revenue for the state, and keep the proceeds for themselves!

If they get their way, future generations will look back at us and be so disappointed. They’ll say we let individual and political feuds destroy a precious part of our heritage. That they may be rethinking LKY’s legacy, but we robbed them of the chance to assess part of it. That we let one late leader’s wishes override the interests of the nation.

FamiLee feud- What’s the Public Interest? 

It’s so sad looking at Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang taking their family feud public. They say they did so because LHL is abusing his power, but can’t give any specifics. If they were really scared of state persecution, why is Hsien Yang telling everyone his plans? And why isn’t Wei Ling leaving too? It doesn’t add up.

The only concrete allegation they’ve made is that LHL doesn’t want to demolish LKY’s house.  That’s​ incredibly ironic. The house is where Singapore’s independence was formulated- surely it has heritage value? Indeed, that’s what Cabinet (without​ LHL) decided. They want to record the facts, so a future government can decide its fate. After all, the heritage law applies equally to all.

Yes, LKY said he wanted it to be demolished. But I thought we were beyond strongman leadership now? The public interest should prevail, not an individual decision. LKY himself accepted this before his death.

Now, the younger Lee siblings want LHL to singlehandedly overturn the Cabinet decision and pledge to demolish the house. That would be the real abuse of power!

Lee Wei Ling let slip their real motivations in a subsequent post. They don’t want to donate the money from the land sale. Seems like this is not only about following their father’s wishes!

It is sad that PM LHL, who gave up a quiet academic life for public service, and is still working for Singapore after two bouts of cancer, has to be subject to public extortion from his own siblings. All over money?

Protecting Pink Dot

I was making plans to go to Pink Dot with some friends, and they were complaining that Hong Lim Park will have ID and bag checks.
Actually, I feel much safer with the checks in place. There must be many fundamentalists out there who hate the very idea of Pink Dot, and want to attack it. Like that Singaporean who threatened to shoot people at Pink Dot and was arrested. After all, some say terrorists attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester because of her image as a sexy, vocal, liberated woman. What more Singapore’s biggest gay rights event? For such an event, every bag needs to be checked to keep the participants safe.
Yes, foreigners will not be allowed to participate. But that has been the rule at Speaker’s Corner all along. I know of many other events that had to be changed or even cancelled because of this. It’s not targeted at Pink Dot, just at foreign intervention in local issues. As I’ve said before, would we like it if the Saudis financed and organised an event calling for female genital mutilation? If the Chinese protested for the right to eat dogs? It will certainly cause introduce foreign fault lines into our society.
This year, Pink Dot will be a totally Singaporean event- Singaporeans coming out in strength, to show that they’re behind the LGBT community. I think that’s more precious than just having large numbers in the group photo.
I guess the antagonism came about because the LGBT community still doesn’t trust the government. They feel the government will “mark” them for discrimination and even persecution. Can’t really blame them when gay sex is still illegal. Government should abolish 377A since they’re not enforcing it. This will send a signal to the LGBT community that they will not be legally persecuted for their love lives.

Careless and Ungrateful Professors

So we thought we were done with armchair professors who live the good life at the expense of taxpayers but do not understand the basic concept of gratitude. They pretend to be humble, fight for the poor, speak up against the establishment. Boy, it is so easy to say all the right things that make people go angry about the establishment.

But most of them are champagne socialists. Live the good life at taxpayers’ expense, travel around the world, drink great wine and enjoy all the great attention from wide-eyed young admirers. Really, there is no cost to them for always saying all the populist things. Like take $20 billion from reserves and give it to the poor and all problems solved. Give free healthcare to everyone. Slam the police without giving any thought to the serious consequences their comments can have on public safety.

Yes, it is easy. Because these people don’t have to find the money to fund the public programmes. They don’t have to persuade the public to give up their hard earned money to pay taxes. They don’t have to go out daily to work with poor people. They don’t have to deal with robbers, murderers coming at them with abuse and parangs. They don’t have to go out there and attend the funerals of dead policemen or comfort families of raped or murdered victims. They think the murderers, robbers, criminals are the victims. When things go wrong, they go back to their Carribbean holidays and it is left to the government and the agencies to clean up the mess.

So what’s with this Yeoh Lam Keong fellow. First, he gets all self-righteous and thinks he has come up with the killer-app to deal with terrorism. In one reckless stroke, he accused the independent inquiry of the Little India riots, long after the event four years later, of lying to the public. The riots, he now says, is caused by the lack of community policing. He brushed off alcohol as a scapegoat cooked up by the committee. He added in alienation of police as a cause for good measure.

You can bet to the last dollar that the good professor didn’t read the COI report when he carelessly made those unfounded allegations. If you remember, the COI which was highly independent and at times overly critical of the force at that time of hearing had established alcohol indeed as a factor causing the riots. Community policing has also been a cornerstone of police work in the last few years. Obviously, Yeoh doesn’t really get around much. He probably hasn’t heard of SGSecure.

That, however, should not be an issue. It is OK to arrive a wrong conclusion based on hearsay or our own preconceived ideas of how events happen. We are all entitled to our own views, honest mistakes. Most of us get away with it anyway.

But Yeoh had a sudden change of heart. First, he apologised, accepted the good work by the police and said he was merely doing it out of concern. And then within a day he changed tack. Oh, the former police chief did say there was indeed a shortage of manpower in the police force.

There you go, I was right, he seemed to be gloating.  By citing an unrelated quote by the former police chief, he cleverly deceived many into thinking he was right about his earlier assessment over the cause of the riots. As one Facebook writer posted, the usual Opposition cheerleaders like Andrew Loh immediately fell right into his trap. 

I am glad that Calvin Cheng, much as I do not agree with him all the time, called him out. Let’s backtrack. Yeoh’s original point was lack of community policing and alienation of police. The former police chief’s point about the shortage of manpower had been said by the Government and the force for years. It was not cited as the cause of the riots. Certainly, when the former police chief talked about that and when officers talked about the shortage manpower during the riots, they were not saying it was the cause of the riots. It was not related to the cause at all. Mr Yeoh either doesn’t understand the meaning of cause or he simply saw an opportunity to confuse the public by conveniently throwing in a quote said during the inquiry to back up his case. That, to me, is sheer intellectual dishonesty.

Funny, someone tells me both Mr Yeoh and the other armchair professor Donald Low are buddies. They have conveniently lined themselves with politicians with the opposition. Whenever convenient, they will say they are merely speaking up for Singaporeans. When confronted, they quickly apologised and tried to change their line. One sheepishly went back to delete offensive comments on his Facebook to clean up his storyline, thinking people may not remember. The other changed his apology no less than four times including adding in the unrelated quote from the former police chief.

Both are pretty rich people. Both do not do much for you and me now. Both had been treated well by the Government with scholarships and lucrative great public careers. Now the question I put to my goondu friends in the Government is this – why are you guys so dumb – paying these people so handsomely in a taxpayers’ funded institution to shoot your own foot?