On Wednesday (14 August), Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL), took to her Facebook to share an article that explains why it is totally fine to cut ties with toxic family members.
Apart from being married to PM Lee, Madam Ho is also widely known for her career as the chief executive officer of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings. She is also deemed as an influential figure not just in Singapore, but worldwide, as she took the 17th spot in Forbes’ World 100 Most Powerful Women in 2018.
In her post, Madam Ho shared an article by Healthy Holistic Living titled “Here’s Why Sometimes It Is Okay to Cut Ties with Toxic Family Members”.
As obvious as the title sounds, the article basically talks about why it is right to distance yourself from family members who are toxic and only causes you pain. Some of the reasons the article highlighted to justify such a move include if the person only comes to you when they need something, they judge you, gossip about you, or are manipulative and gaslights you.
Although there’s nothing particularly wrong with the article and the points raised by the author, but the irony of Madam Ho sharing the article is what’s interesting and amusing to us. This is because everyone knows that she has a sour relationship with her husband’s family members – particularly her brother-in-law Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) and sister-in-law Dr Lee Wei Ling (LWL).
The Lee family feud
For those who is not aware of the whole family dispute, it became a public news in 2017 following a Facebook post where LHY and LWL issued a joint-statement reiterating their father’s wish for the family house at Oxley Road to be demolished immediately after his death, and alleged that their brother, PM Lee, wanted to keep the house “to inherit (Lee Kuan Yew’s) credibility”.
Just this May, LWL also stressed in a Facebook post that her late father was misled by PM Lee into thinking that his 38 Oxley Road property had been gazetted by the Singapore government, causing him to change his will to bestow the house to LHL.
Dr Lee also claimed that LHL eventually persuaded LKY that since Oxley had been “gazetted”, it was futile to keep LKY’s direction to demolish Oxley in his will.
Due to this misrepresentation, LKY, who had originally wanted to demolish the house, has considered “alternatives” to demolition, said the siblings.
However, according to Dr Lee, LKY began to doubt the truth that Oxley had been “gazetted” in late 2013, and it was subsequently revealed to late LKY that the house wasn’t gazetted.
If that is not all, the late LKY also removed PM Lee as an executor and trustee of his will, making only the other two siblings, LHY and LWL as the executors. (Note that this is not related to the prior alleged event mentioned before this sentence)
Due to the unhappiness and ongoing family feud, PM Lee has also not invited his siblings for any family reunion dinner since 2015. In the 2017’s joint statement, LHY and Dr Lee noted that their brother has rejected their attempts at reconciliation and that during the “first Chinese New Year reunion after father’s death, our brother invited all relatives except us”.
Apart from the Lees siblings, Lee Hsien Yang’s wife and son are also not free from the family problems. Earlier this year, a 500-page complaint was filed by the Attorney General-Chambers (AGC) alleging the wife of LHY, Lee Suet Fern of “professional misconduct” in relation to her preparation of the late Mr Lee’s final will.
AGC stated: “Ms Lee appears to have prepared the Last Will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and arranged for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to execute it, despite the fact that her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, is one of the beneficiaries under the Last Will”, and that his “share increased under the Last Will”.
Besides that, the AGC also initiated legal action against LHY’s eldest son, Li Shengwu in 2018 over a private Facebook post. In his post, he said that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”, which is related to the Lee family’s family dispute over the Oxley Road home.
Looking at PM Lee’s family drama and the bad relationship that he and his wife share with his siblings, it’s interesting to see such an article appear on Madam Ho’s Facebook page and a question if there is any hidden meaning to it.
PMO issues letter of demand on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
On 1 Sept, TOC received a letter of demand from the Prime Minister’s Office, claiming that this article contained defamatory allegations and demanded for this article to be taken down along with a letter of apology. While we have rejected the demands set out in the letter, we will, nevertheless, including the letter in this article for the arguements of PM Lee to be viewed together with the article.