Dr Lee Weiling has released an email from Janadas Devan, Chief of Government Communications at the Ministry of Communication and Information that was sent in 2011 which seems to contradict the version of story that was allegedly declared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his statutory declaration to the Ministerial Committee.
Dr Lee who is the sister of PM Lee, posted an image on her Facebook page showing two screenshots of two documents.
One showing an alleged part of the declaration made by PM Lee to the Ministerial Committee formed to deliberate on the government’s decision on the property at 38 Oxley Road, he allegedly states,
“Soon after the meeting Mr Lee asked me for my views on whether 38 Oxley Road would be retained as heritage site. Given the strong views expressed by the Ministers during the Cabinet meeting of 21 July 2011, which also tied in with my own assessment of the public sentiment, I told Mr Lee that I felt that Cabinet was unlikely to agree to demolish the House after he died.
Mr Lee then took a number of steps which put beyond a doubt that he came to accept Cabinet’s position.”
(This is the first time that this statement is seen in public as PM Lee only released a summary of his declaration which did not address this point.)
The second showed an email from Janadas which was sent on 28 July 2011, a few days after the stated Cabinet meeting. The email wrote,
“Saw MM today. First meeting on Oxley book, together with team. He was in good form. He said house will be torn down. It is obvious that is what he wants. It will be a small minded people that denies him this personal wish. I think he’s wrong wishing it, but I’d feel awful denying what he obviously wants.”
Not the first time that LKY’s demolishment wish on 38 Oxley Road was said
In fact, what Janadas wrote is as what PM Lee himself implied in his speech on 13 April 2015 over the passing of Lee Kuan Yew.
“There have also been calls to turn Mr Lee’s home, 38 Oxley Road, into a museum and a memorial to him. But Mr Lee was adamant that 38 Oxley Road should be demolished after his passing. He wrote formally to the Cabinet at least twice to put his wishes on the record – once soon after my mother his wife had died, and the second time soon after he had stepped down from office in 2011. He said, talking about Oxley Road, that “it should not be kept as a kind of relic”. He said that he had seen too many other houses of famous people “kept frozen in time … as a monument with people tramping in and out”. They invariably “become shabby”, in his words. My mother also felt strongly about this. She was most distressed at the thought of people coming through her private spaces after she and my father had passed away, to see how they had lived.
Mr Lee stated his view on this matter in one of his books, Hard Truths. This caused a public reaction, as some people wanted the house preserved. So, in December 2011, after he had retired from the Cabinet, and after he had written to us the second time, I held a special Cabinet meeting and invited Mr Lee to attend, in order to discuss 38 Oxley Road.
The Ministers tried hard to change his mind. After the meeting, Mr Lee wrote to the Cabinet, and I quote from his letter:
“Cabinet members were unanimous that 38 Oxley Road should not be demolished as I wanted. I have reflected on this and decided that if 38 Oxley Road is to be preserved, it needs to have its foundations reinforced and the whole building refurbished. It must then be let out for people to live in. An empty building will soon decline and decay.” End of the quote and that was the letter.
Two years later, in December 2013, Mr Lee made his will. He appointed my brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang and sister Dr Lee Wei Ling as his executors and trustees. Mr Lee wrote, in paragraph 7 of his will, and I quote:
“I further declare that it is my wish, and the wish of my late wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 (‘the House’) be demolished immediately after my death or, if my daughter, Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out. If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the law, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants. My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private.”
Mr Lee’s position on 38 Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values. We should respect his wishes, as well as those of Mrs Lee.
Dr Lee Wei Ling has informed me that she intends to continue living in the house at 38 Oxley Road. Therefore, there is no immediate issue of demolition of the house, and no need for the Government to make any decision now.
If and when Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lives in the house, Mr Lee has stated his wishes as to what then should be done. At that point, speaking as a son, I would like to see these wishes carried out. However, it will be up to the Government of the day to consider the matter.”
For those who have been following the on-going Lee family saga would be familiar with the accusations made by the children of late Lee Kuan Yew, LWL and Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) upon their elder brother with allegations of him abusing his powers and position as Prime Minister for his personal agenda.
Both of them issued a joint statement on 14 June delivering harsh criticisms of PM Lee, saying that they are disturbed by the character, conduct, motives and leadership of their brother and the role of his wife, Ho Ching.
While the media and the Ministers under PM Lee have been painting the issue as one that is about the property of 38 Oxley Road, how LKY was not one-minded to have his property demolished, how the younger brother intends to profit from selling the plot of land and a matter of family dispute between the Lee siblings.
But the matter goes far beyond a family dispute over an estate.
- Till today, we do not know when the Ministerial Committee was formed to look into the matters of the property. LWL and LHY were only informed of the existence of the committee in July 2016.
- LHY has alleged that PM Lee obtained documents in his official capacity for his personal affairs, but Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong says it was normal, and in order.
- Although DPM Teo Chee Hean has come out to claim that he is the chairman of the Ministerial Committee, but who called for the committee to be formed?
With this email shared by LWL, we are now faced with the heightened possibility that PM Lee made a false declaration to the Ministerial Committee. Making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence under Singapore law, and which carries a penalty of a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years and/or a fine.
In light of the seriousness of the matter, one will wonder how can PM Lee’s Parliament statement on 3 July address the allegations made against him? As LHY has pointed out yesterday, he and his sister will not be allowed to make their representation on the matter at Parliament and the Members of Parliament will be subjected to an one-sided narrative of the story. Supposed evidence as what LWL has just presented, will also not be available to the MPs.
Indeed, the Parliament is not a place to resolve family disputes and neither is it a place to clear up doubts on allegations of such magnitude. A committee of inquiry is much needed to clear up all doubts in this saga to preserve the trust in Singapore’s public institution.