An end to the saga? Or not?
The saga originated from the differences in view between LHL and LWL/LHY regarding the final wishes of LKY on the aftermath of the 38 Oxley Road house.
From initially agreeing on the demolishing of the 38 Oxley Road house to claiming a misrepresentation of LKY’s final words on Oxley Road house. In the dispute, furthermore claims of lack of checks and balance, abuse of power, Ho Ching’s expanding influence and lack of meritocracy.
In order to address the claims from his siblings, LHL held a parliament whereby party whip was lifted to allow Members of Parliament to field questions that allow him and the involved Ministers to reply. Do note that the questions are submitted to allow them to have a response on the date of the parliament. For instance, some questions were about addressing the claims.
Here are some questions and answers:
1. Lack of checks and balances
This point is hardly covered, but you can see it in two versions. There is some minimal type of check of balance, in the form of a “parliament session” which was held to find out the “truth”. However, a discerning person will know that this session is hardly from being objective whereby a third party institution like the Judiciary or CPIB are called to investigate the issue. For instance, there were calls for a “Select Committee” raised by Workers Party to investigated all allegations but was refused because it was not “substantial” by the siblings. The possibly positive note to take away from here is that he did agree that a “Select Committee” may be formed if more substantial evidence surface. But… what is “substantial evidence”? It will probably be difficult for any whistleblower to pursue unless he is damn sure he has objective concrete evidence because human verbal accounts will just get character assassinations.
2. Abuse of Power
This point was elaborated in the Deed of Gift made to NHB whereby the PM obtained the deed and gave it to his personal lawyer for the legal fights against the siblings.
The lack of “privacy” and abuse of power was refuted, claiming that the PM should be entitled to receive the Deed of Gift because he was the beneficiary of the estate.
Secondly on the secrecy of the ministerial committee to decide on the future of 38 Oxley Road house. This point was simply not answered, but with a stance that these committees are common and normal and there was not really a “need” to disclose the members. It further refuted the allegations that the committee was created to change the decision on LKY’s final will. Yet again, this was refused, it was stated that the committee only wanted to know the circumstances surrounding the drafting of the will to better plan for the decisions to be taken on the house.
3. Ho Ching’s expanding influence
In the original allegations, it was stated that Ho Ching overstepped herself as the PM’s wife by ordering civil servants around. In this instance, it was claimed that Ho Ching represented the PMO to loan the items to NHB.
However, LHL stated that it was a matter of convenience in having Ho Ching deal with the items. Do you buy that?
Ho Ching was very keen to provide ideas on preserving, renovating and moving into the house to “inherit his poltiical capital” claimed by LHY.
4. Lucien Wong’s appointment of AGC head
The fact that Lucien Wong was LHL’s personal lawyer was not stated in any press releases during his appointment as AGC head.
Yet this was simply brushed past that he was one with great achievements and recognised as one of Singapore’s best lawyer in the industry. In addition, they further supplement that AGC required the top minds to deal with complex problems in the future, especially with Malaysia renewed attempt on Pedra Branca.
WP’s insistence for more “distance between AGC leadership” and government was, unfortunately, being refuted. It was claimed that we should not raise concerns about the character of the individuals and as civil servants, they operate with an independent mind. Well, do you buy that?
The whole session was summarised by Workers Party’s Low Thia Kiang as, “ownself defend ownself”, whereby the siblings were unable to defend themselves but to rebut on Facebook platform instead. The WP’s stance is clear, they felt that the demolishing of the house is not their nor Singaporeans’ business, but the allegations of the siblings are indeed concerning Singapore’s credibility. However, WP’s felt that the explanations were lacking and not fully convincing at all. Yet, the final statement from LHL claimed that the Parliament finds no evidence of abuse of power in the family spat and that this issue should have been dealt with separately.
The final statement from LWL&LHY was optimistically viewed as “conciliatory” by ST, but the pages of the letter were actually, in fact, refuting the conclusion of the parliament session, insisting on points of #1, #2 and #3.
The one positive thing gained from the session was that the government does not have the authority to rule on the validity of the final will and the siblings were glad to have that covered, though the government still has the ability to gazette the house. This point is significant because if the house were not to be demolished, everyone knows it is the government’s decision, despite it was the founding father’s wish and also many Singaporeans’ wishes for the house to be demolished as according to LKY. And if LHL were to contradict that decision, it will affect him or the government badly. But then Singaporeans are a forgetful bunch though…. who will still remember this 3 years from now during the election?
From here, it seems that the ball is now with LHL, how he is able to continue his plans to save Oxley Road house without incurring any political damage for not adhering his LKY’s final wishes. And how PAP can prevent getting a hit in its popularity for going aganist the last wishes of LKY.