Singapore PM apologies for harm caused by family feud over house

Their father Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister from 1959 to 1990, turning Singapore into Southeast Asia's richest nation by opening the island to foreign investors.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may have done right by Singaporeans by wanting to put a satisfactory end to the ongoing family feud that's dominated news headlines the past week, but the way he's doing so - discussing the matter in Parliament - is raising some concerns in itself.

The high esteem in which most Singaporeans hold their former leader and the city-state's strict censorship laws have made the public spat something of a political soap opera for the Singapore's 5.5 million people.

"The Government understands that it is natural for the Malay-Muslim community to be concerned about these cases and unsure of what to do, and where to stand", PM Lee said to the media, in Malay, after breaking fast with about 200 officers from the Tanglin Police Division, the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Central Narcotics Bureau, as well as security firms Aetos and Cisco. When that failed, he sold the house to Lee Hsien Yang at a fair market valuation and donated all the proceeds to charity.

"As the eldest of the siblings, it grieves me to think of the anguish it would have caused our parents if they were alive", he said.

PM Lee said he had "done everything possible to avoid this state of affairs".

I have instructed that the PAP party whip be lifted.

The senior Lee, who died in March 2015, had stated his desire to have the house demolished after his death, or immediately after his daughter moved out, a wish that also appeared in his will.

The row burst into the open last Wednesday, when the prime minister's sister Wei Ling and younger brother Hsien Yang released a statement accusing him of misusing his power and trying to milk their father's legacy for political gains. The prime minister said he has serious questions regarding how the will was prepared.

"These allegations go beyond private and personal matters, and extend to the conduct of my office and the integrity of the Government", he said.

"Much as I would like to move on, and end a most unhappy experience for Singaporeans, these baseless accusations against the Government can not be left unanswered". "They must be and will be dealt with openly and refuted".

Noting that the community has condemned the terrorists' ideology, PM Lee said the Government does not want other communities to cast doubts on this front. "But my siblings were not happy about it". He added that there should be no reason for any further quarrel since he no longer owned the house and does "not take part in any Government decisions on the house". "However, my siblings have chose to go out and make serious allegations, publicly", Lee said.

In Hsien Yang's latest salvo on Tuesday afternoon, he directly contradicted a point made by DPM Teo Chee Hean, who made a statement on Saturday about the Ministerial Committee convened to look into issues regarding 38 Oxley Road. "We object to LHL's flip-flopping about Lee Kuan Yew's demolition wish", he said on FB.

  • Arturo Norris