PM Lee extends olive branch to siblings, but they are already continuing down the warpath.
At the end of an extraordinary two-day parliamentary debate yesterday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared that it had found no evidence that he had abused his power in a family feud.
“Even the opposition is not accusing the government of abuse of power,” Lee said in an emotional speech, his voice quivering and eyes tearing up as he rued the breakdown in relations with his brother and sister.
Earlier, Lee Hsien Yang took aim at his elder brother’s statement to parliament at the outset of the debate.
“LHL (Lee Hsien Loong) has made convoluted, ultimately false claims about Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes. LHL is trying to suggest that because LKY signed some renovation plans in early 2012, he was open to preservation of the house,” Lee Hsien Yang said in a posting on Facebook.
PM Lee addressed that accusation in parliament.
“The simple answer is that I did not deceive my father…my father’s primary wish on the house had always been clear – he always wanted it knocked down,” he said.
“Where my siblings and I differ is on whether my father was prepared to consider alternatives should demolition not be possible.”
During the debate, Goh Chok Tong, who ran the country for 14 years after Lee Kuan Yew stepped aside in 1990, defended PM Lee’s character, and voiced understanding over his reluctance to sue his own kin.
“The dispute over 38 Oxley Road is only a fig leaf for the deep cracks within the family, cracks which perhaps started decades ago. What is the agenda of PM’s accusers?” said Goh.
“From what Lee Hsien Yang and his wife are freely telling many others, it is clear that their goal is to bring Lee Hsien Loong down as PM, regardless of the huge collateral damage suffered by the government and Singaporeans,” the former prime minister said.
In his concluding speech, PM Lee said, “I hope this two-day debate has cleared the air and will calm things down.”
He warned it was likely his two siblings’ attacks against him would continue in the near term.
“It would be unrealistic to hope that the matter is now completely put to rest. I do not know what further statements or allegations my siblings may make.
His eyes reddened and his voice choked with emotion as he recalled how his father had told him to take care of his mother and siblings should anything happen to him as it was during the tensed period when Singapore separated from Malaysia.
He carried on by expressing his hope to one day reconcile with his estranged younger siblings.
“I hope one day, these passions will subside, and we can begin to reconcile. At the very least, I hope my siblings will not visit their resentments and grievances with one generation onto the next generation,” he told lawmakers.
Urging the city state to move on from the saga, he said, “This is not a soap opera…we must all get back to work.”
Soon after the parliamentary debate wrapped up, younger sister Lee Wei Ling took to Facebook to rebut the premier’s statement that their brother Lee Hsien Yang “wanted in on the deal” (on the family house, which is central to the feud) to buy the share jointly with Wei Ling from Hsien Loong for $1.
She stated clearly that Hsien Yang did not ask to join her in purchasing the house for $1.
“When Hsien Loong offered to sell Oxley to me for $1, I immediately asked Hsien Yang to be part of the deal with me. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to deal with the house on my own,” she wrote in her post.
So, it’s back to he said, she said, and the war rages on.
A scientific poll conducted by the Singapore-based pollster Blackbox Research showed eight out of ten Singaporeans felt the feud had hurt the Lion City’s international reputation.