Since the episode involving my parents’ house became publicised, my sister, Wei Ling and I have taken to social media to reach the people of Singapore. We have no other access. Please let me step back and introduce myself, so that Singaporeans know where I am coming from.
I am the youngest child of Lee Kuan Yew. I have an elder brother Hsien Loong, and an elder sister Wei Ling.
I am a private individual who has always avoided public attention. I am not a politician, and I have never desired to be a one. When I reach out to Singaporeans, please bear in mind that I am a novice. I have neither brigades of staff nor teams to back me up. Indeed, until this episode occurred, I had never posted on Facebook. As such, I ask for your patience – I am only a man working to honour his father’s wishes.
Many have asked me why Wei Ling and I have felt compelled to bring these issues before the people of Singapore. They ask why I have made public a huge national controversy. The answer is that we were pushed by Hsien Loong’s secret cabinet committee.
Growing up in Lee Kuan Yew’s family was a unique experience. My father, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, was a powerful and influential man. My mother too, though she avoided the public eye, was herself a very principled woman. For all these privileges afforded by my parents, they always taught us to act with integrity and to always do the right thing. This was an inviolable value of theirs.
When my father died, the issue of carrying out both my parent’s wishes for their house came up. Our father firmly believed that demolition of his house was the right thing for Singapore. He believed Singapore needed to focus on her future and not on monuments. My father named my sister and I his executors, and with it came his expectation and trust that we ensure his wishes are honoured. Unfortunately, our brother, Hsien Loong, and his wife Ho Ching, have in private vehemently opposed demolition.
As we sought to remind the people of Singapore of our father’s last wish, we encountered opposition every step of the way. It became clear that we faced a vast and coordinated effort by Hsien Loong against us. He did not want our father’s wishes remembered or carried out; he wished to rewrite history to claim that Lee Kuan Yew “accepted” the preservation of his house. Hsien Loong was ready to use his power and influence to thwart our father’s wishes, to meet Hsien Loong’s and Ho Ching’s personal political agenda.
At that point, I could have said to myself, “This is too big for me. This political world is not my world. I could just let events take their course. This is not worth it.” It would have been easy to keep my head down — why risk public outcry, suffer campaigns of character assassination, or even exile? But doing the right thing is rarely easy.
I am not a perfect human being. But I do my best to act with the honour and integrity expected of me by my parents. Their view on demolition of their house was unwavering. I know what they wanted, and as executors of our father’s will, my sister and I have a legal duty to carry out his wishes, instead of allowing them to be perverted by sophistry and machinations. It was a difficult decision, but we were pushed into a corner. We have to stand up and fight for our parents even if it means bringing things into the public sphere as a last resort.
Since these events became public, many reached out to me. Some have scolded me for disrupting the status quo. Others have offered words of encouragement and support. But both groups often ponder what I hope to achieve through all this.
I am just a son trying to honour my father’s final wish: to demolish my father’s house immediately when my sister, Wei Ling, no longer lives there. In the meantime, to ensure her the unfettered right to live in the only home she knows as long as she should wish. Ling, being unmarried and without children of her own, stayed there with Papa and helped look after him in his final years. It was our father’s wish that she should be permitted to stay in the original house for as long as she wanted.
It has been insinuated that I seek to redevelop the Oxley road house into a condominium for financial profit after buying it at 150% market price. Beyond zero certainty on timing and the ability to demolish, this requires both rezoning by the URA and cooperation with the neighbors. I have no inclination to seek either of these. Preservation of the house would be trampling on Lee Kuan Yew’s values, and it would be an affront to these same values to develop a luxury “LKY” condominium. The price I paid for the house was simply a price I paid to help ensure my father’s wishes are honoured.
Wei Ling may live in Oxley Road for decades to come. I simply hope to ensure our father’s wishes are honoured when the day comes. Since I cannot predict the timing or whether the government will even permit us to demolish the house, it is impossible to plan beyond that point. We suggested options such as demolishing the house and planting a memorial garden, but Hsien Loong has staunchly refused.
Our father, and we too, recognise that the Government has the power to gazette the house — no man stands above the law after all. We are simply very sad that it is in fact Hsien Loong using powers and instruments of the state to achieve preservation of the house for his personal agenda, whilst pretending to be an honourable son.