Singapore

PM Lee's wife: I informed Lee siblings about NHB loans

Ms Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, yesterday said she had informed the Lee siblings about items belonging to their father that were loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB).

She gave her account of how the items were found, how she discussed their significance with her husband and arranged for the donation to the NHB, with the siblings kept updated.

She said this in a reply on Mr Lee Hsien Yang's Facebook page, a day after he accused her of taking away items belonging to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew from his 38, Oxley Road, home. He had said this "constitutes both theft and intermeddling".

Later last evening, PM Lee said in a Facebook post: "Ho Ching explains how my father's items were handled after he passed away, with my siblings kept in the loop.

"Questions had been raised about her role in the loan of some of these items to NHB. The loan was openly done, and for a good cause - an exhibition remembering my father soon after he died."

He was referring to comments she posted yesterday, her first since the Lee family feud became public last week.

Ms Ho said she began tidying the house and organising items when Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Suet Fern went for a break abroad after the funeral.

She said it was "dogsbody work as I mentioned to you before, which I couldn't see Ling or Fern doing".

She said she had done likewise at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's request after Mrs Lee died, and kept Dr Lee Wei Ling posted without intruding into her grief.

While tidying up the house in April, she came across "small interesting items", including a "puzzling telegram about a Battleship arrival".

"Loong immediately knew its significance, and identified four items that he thought would be useful to lend to NHB which was organising an exhibition on papa's life," she said.

Ms Ho said she arranged to lend the four items to NHB through the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), emphasising that the items belonged to the estate and must be returned.

'TROUBLING'

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had earlier said "it is deeply troubling that someone can represent the PMO despite holding no official position".

Yesterday, Ms Ho noted that she had also organised the late Mr Lee's ties, and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had confirmed he was agreeable for NHB to pick what they wanted.

"After the will was read on 12 April, I again kept both you and Ling posted on all that I had done including the four items loaned to NHB," she said.

"You may wish to check your e-mail records to refresh your memory on the various updates that I had given you during those two weeks," she said.

Responding to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's initial accusation that she took the items a day after Mr Lee Kuan Yew was hospitalised on Feb 5, 2015, she noted that she was away in Europe with PM Lee till Feb 7 for his working visit.

"In any case, there would not be any reason for me to rummage or tidy up papa's things when he was in the hospital - that is not me nor my values," she said.

She ended by saying: "I hope that whatever you are upset about, you will have the heart to remember what papa and mama would have wanted most for the family and for Singapore." - ROYSTON SIM, THE STRAITS TIMES

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Lee Kuan YewHO CHINGoxley road