Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong began his ministerial statement on the dispute surrounding the late Lee Kuan Yew’s 38 Oxley Road home at 12.30PM today.
He began his speech by stating that he was not out to make his case against his siblings, and that he would try to resolve personal differences privately. However, he would address accusations made against the Singapore government and the charges that he had abused his position of power as Prime Minister.
PM Lee gave his background on the 38 Oxley Road dispute, and said that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not have an all or nothing view on the demolition of the house. Following a “strong public pushback” against his desire to demolish the 38 Oxley Road house, which was made public in his book “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”, PM stated that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew had reflected on his stand and decided on a middle ground compromise – to renovate the house and remove the private spaces.
The late Mr Lee wrote in 2011: “Cabinet members were unanimous that 38 Oxley Road should not be demolished as I wanted. I have reflected on this and decided that if 38 Oxley Road is to be preserved, it needs to have its foundations reinforced and the whole building refurbished. It must then be let out for people to live in. An empty building will soon decline and decay.”
However, the dispute between the surviving Lee siblings broke out following the death of the Lee Kuan Yew in March 2015 and the reading of his will to Lee Hsien Loong and his brother, Lee Hsien Yang and sister Lee Wei Ling on 12 April 2015.
PM Lee said in his speech: “There was a difference of views. Hsien Yang, for the first time, objected to the renovation plans that my father had approved,” PM Lee said. “He wanted the house to be knocked down immediately.
“This was a complete surprise to me.
“I pointed out that his position now was different from what the family had discussed and agreed on. But it was not possible to knock down the house immediately, anyway, because my sister, Wei Ling then said she intended to continue to stay in the house.
“And in his will, my father had expressed his wish that Wei Ling be allowed to stay there for as long as she wished. So I said we should honour that, and that I would say in Parliament that the Government would not make any decision, until such time as my sister was no longer staying there.”
After the dispute, PM Lee said he recused himself from all decisions regarding the house and sold the home to his brother Lee Hsien Yang. He noted that his brother and sister were unhappy that he had received the house from Lee Kuan Yew in his will, and sought to settle the issue in this manner.
PM Lee says that to date, he is still not sure why his siblings are still unhappy and is not sure what else he could do to appease his siblings.
He thinks the difference in 2 views over 38 Oxley Road goes down to:
Dr Lee’s and Mr Lee’s view – Mr Lee Kuan Yew “absolutely wanted to demolish the house, with no compromise”
PM Lee’s – While Mr Lee Kuan Yew wanted the house to be demolished, he was prepared to consider alternatives should the Government decide otherwise.