Mr Ashok Kumar Mipuri, Singapore’s ambassador to the United States has issued a rebuttal to an article that was published by the New York Times about the Lee family saga on 4 July 2017, stating that “there is no national crisis in Singapore.”
The NYT article entitled, “Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis” covered the allegations that Dr Lee Weiling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had made against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in June and commented that the dispute over the fate of 38 Oxley Road has “shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future.”
Mr Mipuri’s letter criticized the article for promoting the absurd notion that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government with the fate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s house. The NYT time had written that “just as it was difficult to separate Mr. Lee from the country he built, it is impossible to erase the politics from the house. Preserving it would provide a physical reminder not only of Mr. Lee, analysts said, but also of the current prime minister’s connection to him.” and quoted Li Shengwu, Lee Hsien Yang’s son saying that the People’s Action Party viewed the house as a symbol of their legacy and a symbol uniquely associated with them which gives the party legitimacy.
The article further quotes from individuals such as Kirsten Han, an activist and freelance journalist and Sinapan Samydorai, the director of Southeast Asian affairs at Think Center, who noted that the issues arising from the saga is far more than a simple family dispute but a question of whether the Prime Minister abused his political power.
In his letter, the ambassador parroted Ministers on how PM Lee has made a full statement in Parliament against his siblings’ accusations and explained how he had recused himself from all government decisions concerning the house.
Mr Mipuri further states that “no Member of Parliament made any allegations of impropriety or wrongdoing against the PM during the debate, nor has anyone else produced specific evidence to back the siblings’ vague allegations.” Something which the PM Lee and other Ministers have also said in Parliament during the Parliamentary debate on 3 and 4 July.
While the letter from Mr Mipuri was published on 11 July, but the letter that was published by Channel News Asia shows it to be dated on 8 July.
Mr Mirpuri’s letter is reproduced in full below:
To the Editor:
“Family Dispute Over House of Singapore’s Founder Erupts as National Crisis” (news article, July 5) promotes the absurd notion that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government to the fate of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s house.
In response to accusations by his siblings of abuse of power over the house, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a full statement in Parliament. He explained how he had recused himself from all government decisions concerning the house, and also sold the house to his brother, so that he no longer has any interest or influence over the house.
No member of Parliament made any allegations of impropriety or wrongdoing against the prime minister during the debate, nor has anyone else produced specific evidence to back the siblings’ vague allegations. There is no national crisis in Singapore.
ASHOK KUMAR MIRPURI