Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had proposed to his father, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, to will the 38 Oxley Road property to him.
This was revealed on the second day of the trial of PM Lee’s defamation suit against TOC chief editor Terry Xu on 1 December.
PM Lee’s defamation suit against Mr Xu pertains to an article published by TOC on 15 August last year titled “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”.
The article contained alleged defamatory statements made by PM Lee’s siblings Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling in relation to the 38 Oxley Road dispute.
Pointing to an email in 11 August 2011, Mr Xu’s lawyer Lim Tean asked PM Lee if he had proposed to Mr LKY to give the house to him.
PM Lee replied that he gave the suggestion to do so but it was his late father’s decision at the end of it.
When Mr Lim pressed that it was PM Lee’s suggestion to have the house willed to him, PM Lee argued that he and Dr LWL had “made the same suggestion” to have him take the house as part of his one-third share of the estate.
“I made the suggestion to him, but I was not the first to make that suggestion,” said PM Lee.
Mr Lim questioned PM Lee if he has told the late LKY that he was going to retain the house as a heritage site.
“I think it will be best if you can refer back to exactly what I said,” said PM Lee, while requesting to refer to the paragraph from his supplementary Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief (AEIC).
Reading from his supplementary AEIC, PM Lee explained that he gave his “honest assessment” to his late father on what the government would do with the house after his father’s passing and told him that the Cabinet’s views would make it “very hard” for him to override them.
“I added that I would have to agree that the house had to be gazetted to be kept and if I was not the Prime Minister or I did not chair the meeting all the more likely the house would be gazetted,” he noted.
“I did not tell him then or at any time that the house had been gazetted,” PM Lee testified.
Prior to that, Mr LKY had already instructed his lawyer Kwa Kim Li to will the 38 Oxley Road property to Mr LHY and Dr LWL before he was convinced that the house would potentially be gazetted by the government.
Mr Lim, in his cross-examination of PM Lee on 1 December, asked whether the late LKY had written in an email on 8 August 2011 his request to have the house passed down to LHY and Dr LWL.
“He wrote there: ‘Kim Li, put in my will that 38 Oxley Road will go to Yang and Ling on trust for sale to be divided in three shares between my children, but that Ling can occupy the house for as long as she lives,” Mr Lim said, quoting the email.
PM Lee affirmed that Mr LKY had written such a request.
The High Court is slated to hear oral arguments in the suit on 15 February next year in open court at 10 am.
The hearing is scheduled to take place before trial judge Justice Audrey Lim.