Fami-Lee feud: Lee Hsien Yang ‘heartbroken’ about legal proceedings with PM Lee and not seeing ailing sister again
It might have started years ago, but the fight for the fate of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s home in Oxley Road has not ceased.
We’ve all had front-row seats to the saga, from he-said-she-said statements to fictional board games being created around the drama.
More recently, Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Lee Hsien Loong, shared a raw and honest post titled ‘Singapore – My Country’ describing his disappointment over how it has all turned out.
Currently, Lee Hsien Yang and his wife are involved in an ongoing police investigation over allegations of lying under oath.
In the post, he wrote, “I am heart-broken that I have been made a fugitive by my own country, for standing up for a promise to my father, Lee Kuan Yew.”
The family drama is focused on the former residence of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his children’s conflict over its future use and demolition. The senior Lee had willed the house to Lee Hsien Loong with a clause asking for its demolition after his daughter, who had been staying there, moved out.
It was later sold to his brother Lee Hsien Yang in 2015 at market price – on the condition that both of them would donate half of the value to charity.
However, in 2017, Lee Hsien Loong’s siblings made a statement on Facebook alleging that he had abused his power as prime minister to prevent the demolition and wished to move into the house to inherit the political capital of his father.
Lee Hsien Yang did not mince his words when he said in the post that his brother and his team were seeking to undermine their father’s wishes on this issue, even after everyone had seemingly been on the same page as of 2015.
He cited how public his father had been in his wishes for the demolition of the Oxley Road house over the years – both in private and in public. This was evident in speeches he made, in his book “Hard Truths”, and even in a video recorded before his death, according to Lee Hsien Yang.
“If Lee Kuan Yew changed his mind, he would have made that abundantly clear,” he said of his outspoken father.
On top of that, several government bodies were also dragged into the messy dispute due to being involved in the plan.
He said, “We questioned “What has happened to the values of Lee Kuan Yew?” thinking that there were still men and women of integrity in the PAP, people who would speak truth to power, to put a stop to abuses of power by Hsien Loong and his wife. We rapidly learned otherwise.”
“Singapore cannot thrive under leaders who put their selfish interests ahead of the needs of the country,” he put boldly.
Relationship with sister
His post also revealed that he and his sister Lee Wei Ling had stood with each other throughout the whole ordeal.
“Wei Ling, for all her quirks and eccentricities, has always been forthright, principled, and courageous. I was persuaded by her to stand up for our parents,” he shared.
Despite knowing their father’s wishes to demolish the house after his death, Lee Hsien Yang revealed that both his sister and him “have always accepted” that the Singapore government could intervene and overturn the decision.
However, he said they would not accept “the continued pretence that he had changed his mind”, referring to their brother’s actions. He said accepting that does not take away from the fact that they are upset with how things are going down.
“If Lee Hsien Loong and his government wish to preserve our father’s home, then they should do so acknowledging that they preserve it against Lee Kuan Yew’s earnest wishes,” he added.
He also said that because of how close he was to his sister, he took up the responsibility to look after her after his father’s passing. She was diagnosed with a serious illness in 2019 but he was happy to have brought her to visit Machu Picchu – a place she had always wanted to go to – when Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
On a gloomy turn, Lee Hsien Yang shared in the note that his sister is now “extremely unwell” and he fears that he will never be able to see her in person again.
“Lived in a cocoon”
In his words, Lee Hsien Yang said the whole ordeal had made him realize that he “lived in a cocoon.”
“I belonged to ‘the family’ but had not been involved in any way in politics. I lived in a sheltered ignorance of the real Singapore, the lives and struggles of the man in the street or in that one room HDB rental flat, the wrongful persecutions of persons who were only trying to do good, whether they be caring persons in civil society, lawyers and others who were prepared to assist underdogs, or politicians who have lost much and sacrificed much because they stood for their principles, because they loved Singapore and our people.”
He acknowledged his privileges but also said that he had lost a lot by simply trying to honor his father’s dying wish. He knew that if his sister and him had just remained silent, life would have probably been much easier and peaceful but he “spoke up to keep a promise to our father.”
“No mere material calculation could outweigh the risk to our reputations and to our place in society,” he reflected.
Since the feud started, his family had been subjected to a long and draggy smear campaign. He is currently residing in Europe with his wife.
He said, “We have lost our lives in Singapore, our home, our friends, our wider families and our society.”
He also said that his wife and sons have been supportive and stood by him through the whole saga.
Running for prez
Perhaps in a twist of events, it wasn’t long ago that he hinted in an interview with Bloomberg that a lot of people have approached him to run for president in the upcoming Presidential elections.
“It’s something I would consider,” he said.
Meanwhile, get your popcorn ready, this fami-lee feud is not going to die out so quietly it seems.
Lee family’s Oxley House feud turns into a satirical board game by Singapore comic artist
We know family drama can get complicated but if you happen to be the prime minister of a country that is feuding with your siblings, then the feud is news…