I refer to the article “PM Lee Hsien Loong ‘saddened’ by statement from siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang” (Straits Times, Jun 14).
It states that “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his disappointment and sadness over a statement issued by his siblings “publicising private family matters”.
“I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son,” said Mr Lee, in response to a six-page public statement issued by his siblings on Wednesday (June 14).
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said in their statement that they had lost confidence in their brother, PM Lee.
In response, PM Lee said: “While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family. Since my father’s passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents. My siblings’ statement has hurt our father’s legacy. ”
In their statement, which they publicised on their Facebook pages around 2am, the two siblings said they felt closely monitored and fear the use of organs of state against them and Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern.
They also said the situation is such that Mr Lee Hsien Yang felt compelled to leave Singapore “for the foreseeable future”.
Prime Minister Lee responded to this by saying: “I will do my utmost to continue to do right by my parents. At the same time, I will continue serving Singaporeans honestly and to the best of my ability. In particular that means upholding meritocracy, which is a fundamental value of our society.”
PM Lee had said he had recused himself from all government decisions involving the house and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.
This morning, he ended his response by saying: “As my siblings know, I am presently overseas on leave with my family. I will consider this matter further after I return this weekend.””
The following are some extracts from Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang’s statement:-
“Since the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, on 23 March 2015, we have felt threatened by Hsien Loong’s misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government and its agencies to drive his personal agenda. We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government. We feel big brother omnipresent. We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern. The situation is such that Hsien Yang feels compelled to leave Singapore: “It is with a very heavy heart that I will leave Singapore for the foreseeable future. This is the country that my father, Lee Kuan Yew, loved and built. It has been home for my entire life. Singapore is and remains my country. I have no desire to leave. Hsien Loong is the only reason for my departure.” If Hsien Loong is prepared to act thus against us, his younger sister and brother, both contributing members of Singapore’s establishment, to advance his personal agenda, we worry for Singapore. We question whether able leaders with independent political legitimacy will be side-lined to ensure Hsien Loong’s grip on power remains unchallenged.
This is by no means a criticism of the Government of Singapore. We see many upright leaders of quality and integrity throughout the public service, but they are constrained by Hsien Loong’s misuse of power at the very top. We do not trust Hsien Loong and have lost confidence in him. Since Lee Kuan Yew’s death, there have been changes in Singapore that do not reflect what he stood for. Nobody ever doubted that Lee Kuan Yew always held the best interests of Singapore and Singaporeans at heart. He was authentic and spoke his mind. The same cannot be said for our brother, Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ho Ching.
Singapore has no such thing as the wife of the prime minister being a ‘first lady’. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990. During those many years, his wife (our mother) consistently avoided the limelight, remaining his stalwart supporter and advisor in private. She lived discreetly, and set a high bar for the conduct of a prime minister’s wife. She would never instruct Permanent Secretaries or senior civil servants. The contrast between her and Ho Ching could not be more stark. While Ho Ching holds no elected or official position in government, her influence is pervasive, and extends well beyond her job purview.
On Hsien Loong’s insistence, Lee Kuan Yew met with the Singapore Cabinet on 21 July 2011 to discuss the fate of his personal home. Wei Ling met Lee Kuan Yew on the steps of their home as he returned from that meeting. He was anguished and 3 despondent and told Wei Ling “I should not have listened to Loong and gone to meet Cabinet.” He was pained that Hsien Loong, his own son, opposed his wishes in this manner.
Hsien Loong, despite his undertakings to recuse himself, proceeded to make extensive representations to the Committee. He is conflicted. His political power is related to being Lee Kuan Yew’s son and thus he has every incentive to preserve Lee Kuan Yew’s house to inherit his credibility. He also sits in a direct position of power over the Committee comprised of his subordinate ministers, thus wielding considerable influence for any outcome he desires. Hsien Loong has asserted to the Committee that Lee Kuan Yew would “accept any decision by the Government to preserve 38 Oxley Road.” This play on words is not only dishonest, but nonsensical. Lee Kuan Yew accepted, as he had to, that the Government had the power to preserve 38 Oxley Road against his wishes. But this does not mean that he wanted 38 Oxley Road preserved.
“The values of Lee Kuan Yew are being eroded by his own son. Our father placed our country and his people first, not his personal popularity or private agendas. We are very sad that we have been pushed to this. We feel hugely uncomfortable and 6 closely monitored in our own country. We do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or as a leader. We have lost confidence in him.””
Leong Sze Hian