“No faith in Parliament”

Sense And Nonsense – by Tan Bah Bah

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Why are Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling so angry with Lee Hsien Loong (and Ho Ching)? This is fundamental to an understanding of the Lee family dispute over 38 Oxley Road. The spat will not go away after the July 3 Parliament sitting and the “debate” will not conclusively solve or clarify the issues. The battle will continue in social media.

Put in the most basic way, the younger Lee siblings are unhappy that they are unable to carry out what their father, Lee Kuan Yew, had clearly wanted  –  get rid of 38, Oxley Road. His wills say so, they say. And all the legal documents say so. No ifs, no buts.

And they are particularly upset that their older brother has been somehow allegedly manipulative in the manner in which he has been trying to “undermine” the Lee patriarch’s wish. The setting up of a ministerial committee to look at the options seemed to go against the grain of what should have been a fait accompli, since probate has already been determined and granted.

And in the current ongoing public exchanges between the siblings, the elder brother, according to Hsien Yang at least, has been unethically unleashing his ministers, in particular Indranee Rajah, onto them. The Second Minister for Law and Finance has pointedly asked LHY to identify the lawyer who drafted the final will of LKY. The use of state organs and sitting Cabinet ministers to fight out a family dispute seemed an alleged abuse of state power.

The proper decorum would be for ministers who deemed it necessary to wade in on the dispute to be more circumspect and balanced, if at all they have to make a statement. After all, you are dealing with the children of LKY and not enemies of the state.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has taken a more objective approach. For example, I would give greater credence to his comment:

“I met Mr Lee Hsien Yang several times between April and July 2015. I informed him that PM Lee had recused himself on Government decisions relating to No. 38 Oxley Road…I conveyed Cabinet’s deep respect for Mr Lee Kuan Yew and that Cabinet will take very seriously Mr Lee’s wishes regarding the house, as expressed in his Will, at a time when a decision has to be made regarding the house.

“I also informed him that there are indeed a range of viable intermediate options between these. Mr LHY seems supportive of some of the intermediate options we are studying. So there should be no need to disagree on studying the options for the time when a decision needs to be made.”

Beyond the allegation of a “dishonorable son” going against the wishes of the late father and trying to overturn a patriarchal decree, the younger Lee siblings seem to be expressing a fairly deep dissatisfaction about the state of affairs in Singapore.

Lee Wei Ling’s running feud with Singapore Press Holdings says much about her lack of confidence that the mainstream media can ever be other than the unrelenting well-oiled state propaganda machine to serve whoever is in power. So she cannot expect that her comments are ever going to be projected objectively. There is also some historical no love lost baggage between her and some establishment media players. Too much bad blood.

Next, Lee Hsien Yang has already declared total lack of faith in the Singapore Parliament in giving a fair hearing to the dispute.

He said on Thursday that he has “no confidence” that a “fair, transparent or complete account of events” will be told in Parliament .

“Only his (PM Lee’s) side of the story will air, with no promise of truthfulness due to parliamentary privilege,” he said on his Facebook page.  He added: “We believe that key issues such as his abuse of power will be simply swept under the carpet. The accused controls both process and outcome in this forum.

“This parliamentary session is a forum that again places Hsien Loong before his subordinates. They lack both sufficient background and evidence of the numerous instances of abuse and conflicts of interest, many yet to be raised. Many MPs will fear career repercussions if they speak out against their superior.” Touche.

Critics of the People’s Action Party cannot find better criticism of the stifling political banyan tree dominance of the ruling party than those words just expressed by the son of Lee Kuan Yew, on whose shoulders the party has grown so tall and strong.

Listen more carefully to what Hsien Yang and Wei Ling are saying and what we are seeing is a pervading unhappiness about being shut out of their place in the sun. If they can be shunted aside unchecked, what more others not so privileged?

Monday’s Parliamentary sitting will simply amplify Hsien Yang’s misgivings. Perhaps the misgivings of many Singaporeans too.

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.

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22 comments

  1. Chee hong tat only one of the many lackeys of Lky and yet he clains to know the great man. Please lah, stop using Lky’s name to further yourvown petsobal interests lah

  2. Vincent Kwok , by your notion then I must tell you 50years of wrong does not make it right , it was just that ordinary Singaporean voice count for nothing under the authoritarian(late LKY / LHL) but the current scenarios has changed ! The issues of abuse of power is now called to public examination by no lesser than our late LKY’s two other children !!!

  3. HL has dug his heels deep, and if he did listen to his other half, he ought to realise she has to shut up. This involves the 3 kids; no-one else. This is a LEE siblings critical situation. Everyone else outside the trio has to STFU. Now back to HL. His insistence – in further growing this public spat – is political & branding suicide for him as a head of state. Blimey, we are not talking about a MP. This is the supreme leader of the land. And he should have tried to harness his intelligences to speak directly to his siblings to iron out these issues. There should have been a professional facilitator to manage the discussions, independent win-win Advisors (not tied to an agenda or to a person’s interests) to help the trio arrive at some conclusion, and next steps. Instead, as eldest child, having held the highest office in the uniformed defence as BG, and PM over the last decade, he abysmally failed on all counts to control his emotions, his rationality and allowed himself to be sucked up into this OxLEE Triangle, initiating severe damage to his fledgling credibility, brewing greater suspicion upon himself as well, and permanently damaging relationships between himself and his siblings; in laws, aunts and uncles in law, nephews and nieces, cousins, and the entire family. And the bandwagon of Politicians and civil servants hasn’t even been set into this scenario of damaged friendships and relationships. He’s essentially ripped up the T in Trust reducing it to utter rust. HL ought to put a stop to this. He is poorly advised, or if he thinks he is committing to effective decisions, I pray someone with enough cock-sure courage steps up to tell him blandly to pull the plug and not allow whatever water there is left to leave the tub. IMHO, he has severely, and I say that with shame, destroyed the Sg brand turning the country into a global laughing stock. He still has the next few hours to halt the course of actions he wishes to take in Parliament. But I hope someone with enough gall tells him that he is hoofing the brand image and his complex relationships -family and political – into an abyss where there is no turning back. There is nothing in that abyss or there is something: emptiness. And his term will pass into the shadows as The Prime Minister that won the battle but lost the plot.

  4. How is the political system and the mainstream media different since Singapore’s independence? If the politics is authoritarian (abuse of power), then it has always been and if the mainstream media is a well-oiled propaganda machine, then it has always been. Bear in mind, Lee Hsien Loong was groomed by Lee Kuan Yew.

    If LWL and LHY only now question the integrity of LHL, then I have to tell them Singaporeans have been living with the same old authoritarian political system for the last 50 years.

  5. Facebook Profile photo
    Alan Ng ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The younger Mr Lee and Ms Lee are the executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will. They said in the statement that PM Lee was removed as executor in 2011. Beware.
    Why PM Lee was removed as executor?
    LKY firmly believed that demolition of his house was the right thing for Singapore.
    Demolition better for Singapore?
    Lee Hsien Loong still cannot catch why?
    Too deep to know?
    Different class of leadership?
    Put in the most basic way, the younger Lee siblings are unhappy that they are unable to carry out what their father, Lee Kuan Yew, had clearly wanted – get rid of 38, Oxley Road.

  6. Facebook Profile photo
    Veritas Wallace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    i am glad there are people who are clear-minded to ask the most important question…

    why are the younger siblings so upset ??

    The rest like the secret and special ministerial committee…etc are just smoke screen

  7. LWL was the one who spend more time with LKY. So LKY must have confided with her on lots of issues. So what she is saying make sense. LKY has never got his wife to control any government company or used her influence to get her friends to hold high positions and LHL was the exact reverse. Was her (HC) position been approved by parliament committee, There was so much news about huge losses by Temasek holdings, why was there no investigation by parliamentary committee to clear the air. If its true she should be held accountable.

  8. Ahmah Zing says:

    Well written….those ministars now speaking like LKY has spoken to them, risk being perceived as self serving opportunists out to overachieve on their KPI.

  9. Lim LG says:

    TRULY ABUSE OF BOTH POWER & AUTHORITY!! WHAT A SHAME!!

    ACC TO LHY, WHEN THE LAST WILL WAS MADE, “LHL WAS IN THE LOOP”!! THAT MEANS LHL WAS FULLY AWARE OF IT.

    BUT I THINK LHL WOULDN’T DARE TO GO AGAINST LKY ANYMORE THOUGH AT THAT LAST WILL DULY MADE BY LKY IN 2013 BECOS LHL HAD ALREADY TRIED OPPOSED BEFORE TO LKY’S WISH TO DEMOLISH THE HOUSE.

    FOLLOWING WHICH, LHL HAD ALSO SOME WHAT PERSUADED LKY TO GO FOR CABINET MEETING, WISHING AND HOPING THAT THE CABINET MINISTERS COULD CHANGE LKY’S DECISION.

    HOWEVER IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CABINET MEETING, ACC TO LWL, LKY HAD TOLD HER THAT HE WAS “ANGUISHED WITH LHL” AND THAT HE “SHOULD NOT HV LISTENED TO LOONG TO GO FOR THE CABINET MEETING”.

    LHL HAD THEN KEPT SILENT THO HE WAS FULLY AWARE OF LKY’S THE LAST WILL BECOS HE LITERALLY HAD FAILED TO STOP LKY FROM HAVING MADE UP HIS DECISION TO DEMOLISH THE HOUSE AFTER HIS DEATH, EVEN THRU THE CABINET MINISYERS’ MEETING TOO.

    LHL CONTINUED TO REMAIN SILENT UNTIL LKY’S WILL WAS READ OUT IN APRIL 2015 TO THEM BY THE LAWYER AFTER LKY PASSED AWAY.

    AND ACC TO LWL, AFTER THE WILL WAS READ OUT, LHL WAS “UNHAPPY” AGAIN AND HE “THREATHENED TO GAZETTE THE HOUSE” USING HIS POWER AS PM.

    THEN LHY DISCLOSED THE FORMATION OF THE “SECRET MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE”.

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