Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on the second day of Parliament that he did not mislead his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, into believing that 38 Oxley Road had already been gazetted.
On Tuesday (4 July), in response to a question from Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui, the prime minister said, “The simple answer is that I did not deceive my father.”
“Where my siblings and I differ is on whether my father was prepared to consider alternatives should demolition not be possible,” said PM Lee, referring to the ongoing feud with his younger siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang over the Oxley Road home. On Monday, PM Lee made his ministerial statement in response to allegations of abuse of power made by his siblings on the matter.
After Lee Kuan Yew met the Cabinet on 21 July 2011, he asked the prime minister for his view on what the government should do with the house after he died. PM Lee told his father that he had met the Cabinet and heard that the ministers were unanimous in opposing the demolition of the house.
“I think it would be very hard for me to override them and knock the house down. I would have to agree that the house has to be gazetted,” said the prime minister. “And if I am not PM then and don’t chair the meeting (with Cabinet), all the more likely the house would be gazetted. He (Lee Kuan Yew) understood.”
PM Lee then circulated copies of two e-mail exchanges to those present in Parliament, which showed a proposal that he and his wife Ho Ching had come up with to renovate the house. Their intention was to address the siblings’ concerns “should demolition not be allowed”.
The proposal included renovating the house by demolishing the home’s private spaces, but keeping the “historic basement dining room”. He explained that all the family members were kept in the loop of the plans.
The first e-mail on 2 January 2012 was to the whole family and detailed plans about how the house would be renovated. He added that no objections were raised.
On 30 April 2012, another e-mail was sent by Ho Ching to the whole family indicating that approvals had been secured for the conservation plan. “The conservation plan was done honestly and openly, not on false pretences,” said PM Lee.
The prime minister’s latest statement comes after his siblings posted on Facebook earlier on Tuesday claiming that PM Lee had made “false” claims about Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes. “LHL is trying to suggest that because LKY signed some renovation plans in early 2012, he was open to preservation of the house,” said Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling’s joint statement.
PM Lee has said that he recused himself from all decisions regarding 38 Oxley Road and that the ministerial committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is studying various intermediate options related to the house. DPM Teo has also said that the position of the government is that “no decision is needed now” as Lee Wei Ling continues to live in the property.