Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Maj-Gen Chan Chun Sing, said today at a dialogue with the Foregn Correspondents Association that the Singapore government tackles difficult issues head-on without dodging responsibility.
He was referring to the government’s management of the 38 Oxley Road saga – a public tussle between the late Lee Kuan Yew’s house by his children, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which saw the Lee family’s dirty linen aired in in front of the international community.
Even details such as PM Lee not inviting his siblings, Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling to Chinese New Year reunion dinner were thrown into the spotlight.
The 2 younger Lee siblings had publicly accused PM Lee of abusing his power and using the government machinery to block the demolition of the house, for the purpose of milking LKY’s legacy and building a “family cult”.
They called him a “dishonourable son”.
But Maj-Gen Chan today put his spin on government’s move to block the demolition of 38 Oxley Road – a clause which Lee Kuan Yew had had inserted in his last will.
Said Maj-Gen Chan:
“Not even our founding prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, put himself above the law,” he said, adding this gave confidence that the rule of law applied to everyone – “regardless of your position in life”.
On those who ask why the government could not respect Mr Lee’s wishes, Maj-Gen Chan said:
“We have solutions to achieve both respecting his wish and also the longer term national perspective.”
“If Mr Lee has his personal wish and no one in the current or future cabinet would have the sense of responsibility to think through the issue in context, according to the needs of the society at the time, what would it speak about the quality of leadership in Singapore?”
Maj-Gen Chan also said that “The fact that you have people who are prepared to sit down, look at the issue dispassionately, examine the options, put it to the people, it speaks well for the country.”
Maj-Gen Chan left out the means in which the 38 Oxley Road saga was addressed and brought to a close.
PM Lee Hsien Loong put up a statement on Facebook in which he attempted to dispute his siblings version of events.
He then convened a parliamentary session in which he invited a PAP-led House to question him on the issue.
PM Lee’s siblings were not present at the parliamentary sitting, leading to factions of the public labelling the sitting an “ownself defend ownself” session.
The matter was then laid to rest through state media headlines the day after the parliamentary sitting, despite the Lee siblings having called for an independent investigation and saying that they had much more evidence to produce before an independent committee.