Singapore

Lee Hsien Yang: I have no inclination to redevelop 38 Oxley Road for financial profit

Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said that he has no inclination to redevelop the 38, Oxley Road into a condominium for financial profit, putting paid to claims that he harboured such intentions.

In a three-page statement titled "Why I'm speaking up" that he posted on Facebook on Saturday (July 1) night, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said demolishing the house and developing a "luxury 'LKY' condominium" on the site would be an affront to his father's values.

"It has been insinuated that I seek to redevelop the Oxley road house into a condominium for financial profit after buying it at 150 per cent market price," said Mr Lee.

"Beyond zero certainty on timing and the ability to demolish, this requires both rezoning by the URA and cooperation with the neighbours. I have no inclination to seek either of these."

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling are embroiled in a running dispute with their elder brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Both of the younger Lee siblings want to demolish their father's Oxley Road house, which they say is in accordance with his wishes.

They have also claimed that PM Lee wants to preserve the house for political gain, although PM Lee has made clear that as a son, he supported his father's wish for demolition.

The latest statement comes ahead of a Parliament debate starting Monday, during which PM Lee will address allegations of abuse of power in relation to 38, Oxley Road.

The property was initially bequeathed to PM Lee, but he transferred ownership of the house to Mr Lee Hsien Yang at market value in 2015. Both brothers then each donated half the value of the house to charity.

In his statement, Mr Lee Hsien Yang offered an explanation as to why he and his sister had taken the family spat public, turning it into a "huge national controversy".

Both siblings had on June 14 posted a six-page statement on Facebook claiming that their brother had abused his power,and that they had feared the use of state organs against them.

It led to an almost-daily exchange of rebuttals and explanations.

Said Mr Lee Hsien Yang: "I am just a son trying to honour my father's final wish: to demolish my father's house immediately when my sister, Wei Ling, no longer lives there."

He added that many people had asked why he and Dr Lee "felt compelled" to make the dispute public.

"The answer is that we were pushed by Hsien Loong's secret Cabinet committee," he said.

"We have to stand up and fight for our parents even if it means bringing things into the public sphere as a last resort."

The two younger Lee siblings have charged that the committee was shrouded in secrecy, and formed to block the demolition of the house - though Government leaders have said various ministerial committees are formed to consider a range of issues.

"Our father firmly believed that demolition of his house was the right thing for Singapore. He believed Singapore needed to focus on her future and not on monuments," he said.

He and Dr Lee were named executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will, with their father trusting that they would ensure his wishes were honoured - they therefore had a "legal duty to carry out his wishes, instead of allowing them to be perverted by sophistry and machinations".

However, PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching, have "in private vehemently opposed demolition", claimed Mr Lee Hsien Yang. He added that he encounted opposition "every step of the way as he sought to remind Singaporeans of his father's wishes."

"It became clear that we faced a vast and coordinated effort by Hsien Loong against us. He did not want our father's wishes remembered or carried out; he wished to rewrite history to claim that Lee Kuan Yew 'accepted' the preservation of his house," he said, claiming that PM Lee was ready to use his power and to further his political agenda and that of his wife.

He added that it would have been easy to "keep my head down" instead of risking public outcry, suffer character assassination, or exile.

"But doing the right thing is rarely easy," he said.

At the moment, Dr Lee is still living at 38, Oxley Road, and Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wish was for her to live there as long as she wanted, said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

"Wei Ling may live in Oxley Road for decades to come. I simply hope to ensure our father's wishes are honoured when the day comes," he said, pointing out that his brother had "staunchly refused"options for the site, such as demolishing the house and planting a memorial garden.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang also said that his father would have recognised that the Government would have the power to gazette the house as a national monument, thereby preventing its destruction, pointing out that "no man stands above the law after all".

"We are simply very sad that it is in fact Hsien Loong using powers and instruments of the state to achieve preservation of the house for his personal agenda, whilst pretending to be an honourable son," he added.

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