SINGAPORE, June 15 — More than 17 hours after a joint statement with his sister stunned the public and made headlines around the world, Lee Hsien Yang returned to his Caldecott Close home yesterday evening and told TODAY he was “looking to move on and wake up from what feels almost like an Orwellian nightmare”.
He said he had been “busy at work” the whole day, when asked about the public reaction to the statement.
Reiterating that he has no choice but to leave the country, the youngest of Lee Kuan Yew’s three children cited the setting up of a ministerial committee to consider the various options for the family home at Oxley Road as a “very specific” and “prime” example of how he and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, have been “persecuted”.
Criticising the move, he said: “Why is there even a Cabinet committee when PM Lee (Hsien Loong) had announced in Parliament that so long as Wei Ling is living there, nothing needs to be done? Why when the government says the government of the day will decide when Lee Wei Ling is no longer (living there) ... is the government of today convening this Cabinet committee?”
In a statement issued yesterday, Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong confirmed that the committee had been set up, and it has asked the two younger siblings “some further questions about how the last will was prepared, and the role thats Lee Suet Fern and lawyers from her legal firm played in preparing the last will”.
Lee Suet Fern, a top corporate lawyer, is the wife of Lee Hsien Yang.
Lee Hsien Yang, 60, described his wife’s role in preparing the last will as “nothing”.
“The last will was (referring) back to a 2011 will — my father said ‘go back to the 2011 will’. The 2011 will was prepared by my cousin, Kwa Kim Li. “
My wife helped put into words what my father wanted on the demolition wish. He reviewed it carefully and Hsien Loong was in the loop.”
He said that he and his sister had provided responses to the committee last year. “They continue to repeat the same questions. Probate has been obtained on the last will. It is final and legally binding. If Lee Hsien Loong had any doubt about the validity of the last will, he should have challenged it in court,” he said.
“Frankly it is completely improper to use a Cabinet committee to pursue an issue like this when the proper channel was at the court.”
Lee Hsien Yang said he and his sister have had “mountains of correspondence over almost a year” with the committee.
Prior to yesterday, Lee Hsien Yang — a former Singtel chief executive who is the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) — had largely kept out of the public eye, keeping a low profile amid the dispute over the fate of the Oxley Road family home that his late father wanted demolished.
In the public statement with his sister, which was posted on Facebook at about 2am Wednesday, he said he would be leaving Singapore with a heavy heart for the foreseeable future. “I have no desire to leave. Hsien Loong is the only reason for my departure,” he said. He and Dr Lee said they fear the use of “organs of state” against them ands Lee Suet Fern.
Lee Hsien Yang’s son, Shengwu, shared the Facebook post and wrote: “I generally avoid commenting on Singapore politics, but this is an exception.
“In the last few years, my immediate family has become increasingly worried about the lack of checks on abuse of power.
“The situation is now such that my parents have made plans to relocate to another country, a painful decision that they have not made lightly.”
In the public statement, Dr Lee and Lee Hsien Yang laid out their efforts to fulfil their father’s wish for the
38 Oxley Road home to be demolished and what they claimed were PM Lee’s attempts to thwart that wish.
Lee Hsien Yang also told the Financial Times yesterday he had not decided where to relocate. He said: “I am not an anti-establishment, opposition figure.
“I have a long record of public service. It is heart-wrenching for me to leave this country. It’s not something I would do lightly, if I didn’t have reasons to do it.”
Previously, Lee Hsien Yang had not publicly participated in the dispute among the siblings, which surfaced last year through a Facebook post by Dr Lee.
Last April, Dr Lee had called PM Lee a “dishonourable son”, and alleged that he abused his power to hold events marking the first-year death anniversary of Lee Kuan Yew in order to establish a “dynasty”.
PM Lee had responded that his sister’s accusations were completely untrue and said: “The idea that I should wish to establish a dynasty makes even less sense.” — TODAY