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.