Lee Kuan Yew's son to leave Singapore amid family home conflict

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. — TODAY file  pic
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. — TODAY file pic

SINGAPORE, June 14 — In a six-page statement, the siblings of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have alleged that they felt “threatened” in their attempt to carry out their late father’s wish to demolish the family home on 38 Oxley Road, to the extent that one of them is leaving Singapore “for the foreseeable future”.

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang also said they no longer trusted their elder brother and have lost confidence in him as a leader.

“We feel extremely sad that we are pushed to this position,” Dr Lee and Lee Hsien Yang said in a joint statement posted on their Facebook accounts at 2.20am today, where they expressed fears that the “organs of state” might be used against them and the wife of the younger Lee’s wife, Lim Suet Fern.

They gave no details, but said the younger Lee, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, felt “compelled to leave Singapore”.

He was quoted saying in the statement: “It is with a very heavy heart that I will leave Singapore for the foreseeable future....I have no desire to leave. Hsien Loong is the only reason for my departure.”

Late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had lived in his Oxley Road home since the 1940s. He had expressed the wish, on several occasions, to demolish the house after his death.

Since the late Lee’s death on March 23 2015, however, the issue of how to commemorate his legacy has been widely discussed, including what would become of his Oxley Road home. Some have called for the house to be conserved, while others suggested for it to be turned into a museum and memorial for the late Lee.

Dr Lee and Lee Hsien Yang, who are the executors and trustees of the late Lee’s will, said their father had given them clear instructions directly and in his will — dated December 17, 2013 — to demolish the house immediately after his death, or after Dr Lee moved out.

In his will, the late Lee said this was also the wish of his wife Kwa Geok Choo. 

“I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out,” he wrote.

PM Lee, in a joint statement with his siblings on December 4 2015, said he had “recused himself from all government decisions involving 38 Oxley Road and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish (of the late Lee) honoured.”

They added that they were informed by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in July 2016 that a Ministerial Committee had been set up to “consider options with respect to 38 Oxley Road and their implications”. Dr Lee and Lee Hsien Yang did not say if the committee had reached a new decision on the fate of the Oxley Road house.

They concluded in their letter: “We are private citizens with no political ambitions. We have nothing to gain from the demolition of 38 Oxley Road, other than the knowledge that we have honoured our father’s last wish.” — TODAY

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