by Bertha Henson
IF PEOPLE aren’t getting tired of the FamiLEE saga, I would be surprised. Perhaps, attention has already, to use a popular word, wavered. It’s tough trying to recall every twist and turn of who did or didn’t do what before and after the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew died. Perhaps, that accounts for Ms Indranee Rajah’s “homework’’ on social media although as four-point listicles, they’re rather long.
For spectators, it’s rather tiresome to see both sides repeating the same answers over and over again and what’s worse, raising the same questions over and over again.
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I have asked enough questions of the G, especially over the ministerial committee, which in my view, is the weakest link in the whole G narrative (read more here). But I do have one question that I think the two Lee siblings must answer directly. It doesn’t have to do with who drafted the seventh will, because this should have been raised in probate court or a legal forum with an impartial adjudicator. It also doesn’t have to do with why the three Lee siblings have different interpretations of their father’s last wishes.
It has to do with the impact they are hoping to have on Singapore.
We all know the damage done to Singapore’s reputation. We rarely have political scandals and we have always been able look down our noses at the shenanigans in other countries. It is a source of pride for us. Now, it’s embarrassing to have dirty laundry aired, whether they are personal clothing or not. What do you tell a foreigner who asks what’s going on? My first instinct would be to say “Aiyah, family quarrel lah,’’ even though accusations of abuse of authority have surfaced. I am that embarrassed.
So it comes down to the Lee siblings’ intent when they fired the first shot on two weeks back on June 14 with their joint statement. They said that they were coming out into the open only because they were, to put in layman’s terms, being bullied by Big Brother, and if they, the siblings, can be bullied, what more ordinary mortals? Words used were very provocative but unsubstantiated – save for the first glimpse of a secret ministerial committee which the G has tried, not very well in my opinion, to explain.
What’s worse is Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s statement that his family intends to relocate because life has become difficult for him. That made me angry. I have asked him several times about this, even to the point of suggesting that it was irresponsible. What? You throw this grenade and then you go take cover? Lucky for him that he can but what about us lesser mortals? Do we have to clean up the mess after him?
Have things got so bad for him (how?) that he has to skip town? And leave his sister to stay in the Oxley Road house all alone to defend their position?
His statement is tantamount to saying that there is no resolution at all, which is why he is burning his bridges.
Is there really no resolution? What is the end-game? This is something that has been puzzling me from the beginning. Will the Lee siblings be satisfied only if the ministerial committee is disbanded and the decision on the house left to the government of the day when Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lives in it?
Or are they forcing a decision on the G now? If so, Dr Lee could move out now and, since the house belongs to Mr Lee Hsien Yang, he can start asking for the relevant planning permission to demolish the house. We’ll see what happens then.
Is the intention to warn Singaporeans that their brother is not a nice man, and that since they have lost confidence in him, we should too? The words they used amount to a political challenge, not the mere misgivings of wronged citizens.
I can almost hear the late Mr Lee retorting that they should form a political party and take the G on at the polls. I don’t see that happening – since Mr Lee Hsien Yang intends to leave town.
It is not for the siblings to use the excuses of failed politicians: that they cannot join politics because the State machinery will be against them. They are, after all, not ordinary mortals and can be somewhat assured of a following by, among other things, using the Lee name. Of course, they can argue that they don’t intend to join politics but they cannot keep silent because they have Singapore’s interest at heart. If so, there should be an end-point, a resolution or a compromise in sight because fighting words can fracture Singapore into small pieces.
So what is their point? That they don’t want a third-generation Lee in politics?
The PM has rubbished the suggestion that he harbours political ambitions for his son. His son rubbished it too. Even if the PM did, is that a bad thing? After all, their own father had political ambitions for his son too. If the Lee siblings are implying that the PM is using some nefarious means to pave the way – then that has to be substantiated. All parents, after all, harbour some kind of ambition for their children.
People might even ask if the Lee siblings harbour political ambitions for themselves too. But that cannot be – since Mr Lee Hsien Yang intends to skip town.
So again, what is the intent? That some politician would use the “ammunition’’ to unseat the PM or bring down the the G? Is this some kind of proxy game? The Lees should realise that the People’s Action Party’s dominant position wasn’t built overnight by their father. And while there might a section of people who oppose the G, a much bigger group endorses the Singapore system.
So what do the Lee siblings have in mind? Merely to have the house razed so that they can sell the plot to a developer for a ton of money? Yes, it is a very mean thing to suggest. But I cannot understand why the Lee siblings will not give a commitment on what to do with the land when or if that happens. That would settle speculation that the issue really is about filthy lucre, under the guise of fulfilling their father’s desires.
Today, it seems we have an answer of some sort. The siblings have said that they have suggested building a memorial garden over the razed land and that this was rejected by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and PM Lee. You wonder then about why they were so coy as not to disclose this much earlier. More importantly, does this intention still hold if they get their way with the house?
Even if we don’t get answers to specific questions, we, the people of Singapore, deserve to know the Lee siblings’ final intent. So, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, what about another late night missive answering the question?
The famiLEE affair has been brewing for a while now. Read our past articles on the issue:
- FamiLEE saga: Lessons on will-making (Jun 26)
- FamiLEE saga: The hoo-ha over Ho Ching… hmmm (Jun 24)
- FamiLEE saga: That internal ministerial committee should go (Jun 21)
- FamiLEE saga: Will parliament session end saga? (Jun 20)
- FamiLEE saga: Some leeway should be given (Jun 19)
- FamiLEE saga: 10 things from the academic paper “When I’m dead, demolish it”. (Jun 18)
- FamiLEE saga: Who’s involved (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: Is a grant of probate really final? (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: Somebody should just sue (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: PM Lee’s version of events (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: Let a third party tell all (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: The past three days (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: How Lee Suet Fern got LWL her inheritance, according to leaked emails (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Singaporeans react with confusion, humour and CSI skills (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: From 38 Oxley Road to 1 Parliament Place, not just a family affair (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Headlines around the world (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Now about that mysterious ministerial committee (Jun 15)
- Not just a famiLEE affair (Jun 14)
- Third generation Lee weighs in (Jun 14)
- “We do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or as a leader. We have lost confidence in him.” (Jun 14)
- Mystery deepens over secret tapes of Lee Kuan Yew (Sep 30, 2016)
- Time for the famiLEE to end the public spectacle (Apr 10, 2016)
- Dr Lee Wei Ling gagged? (Apr 2, 2016)
Featured image from Sean Chong.
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