The following is a statement released by Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the executors of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will.
LHL has made convoluted, but ultimately 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.
From 2010, LHL improperly misrepresented to our father LKY that gazetting of 38 Oxley Road was either “inevitable” or that the house was already gazetted. We now know that no decision had been made. Besides issues of improper representation and conflicts of interest on the part of LHL, this shows that LKY’s “consideration” of “alternatives” to demolition was entirely due to LHL’s representations about the house’s fate.
LHL cites the renovation plans by Ho Ching as proof of a change mind on the demolition. LKY was in fact very skeptical about the renovation plans, as these were inconsistent with LHL’s insistence that the house would be gazetted. The curt email reply on renovation plans to Ho Ching, copying the three siblings, says it all.
Because of LHL’s misrepresentations to his father and family, in Sep 2012 LKY believed that the government had already gazetted the house. Thus, he asked his lawyer Kwa Kim Li to search for the order to gazette. Of course, she found no such order. She annotated an e-mail, noting, “I can’t find gazette. Told him.”
As the above documents make clear, the discussion on renovation was instigated by LHL representing that the house would be inevitably gazetted (or had already been gazetted). It did not come about because LKY ‘accepted’ preservation.
Merely because LKY and we accept that the government has power to gazette the house does not mean that this is something LKY wished for. If the children were unable to achieve demolition, LKY made clear he did not want his house open to the public. This does not mean that this is what he wished for.
Indeed, even LHL accepted that any discussions on renovation and preservation was only planning for the regrettable possibility that the house might not be demolished. This is made clear in the following e-mail exchange, on 12 April 2015.
In Parliament, LHL has tried to play with words, asserting that just because Lee Kuan Yew left instructions for what to do if the house was gazetted, that means that he ‘accepted’ that the house should be gazetted.
Leaving instructions for how to deal with a bad event doesn’t imply that you accept or desire the bad event. Suppose someone leaves instructions saying, “I don’t want my books to catch fire. But if my books do catch fire, please call my insurance company.” That does not mean 3 that he ‘accepts’ that his books will catch fire. Obviously, it is not an excuse to burn his books.
LKY had made his clear his wish to demolish the house in public, in private, in writing, on video, and in his last will and testament. LKY’s last will has been confirmed in court. LHL has affirmed LKY’s unwavering wish to demolish his house in private and in public: in Parliament on 13 April 2015 and in public on 4 December 2015.
In December 2015, the estate of Lee Kuan Yew reached a settlement agreement with LHL. In this settlement agreement, LHL confirmed Lee Kuan Yew’s final will, and specifically endorsed the demolition wish in the final will. Is LHL suggesting now that LKY wavered in his unwavering wish?
LKY was a public figure and made his wish to demolish 38 Oxley Road completely explicit. If he changed his mind on demolition, he would have made it known in a clear and public fashion. He never did.
We also dispute LHL’s version of events of 12 April 2015. On that day, we did not discuss any renovation plans or immediate demolition. This was not possible. Clause 7 of LKY’s final will gave Wei Ling an unfettered right to live in the original house, something she had always wanted.
In fact, LHL asserted on 12 April 2015 that he wanted to say in Parliament the following day that “Papa had changed his mind about the tearing down of Oxley Road.” Hsien Loong was very angry and threatened us and demanded our silence on our father’s last wish. We refused.
We only seek to honour our parents’ wishes. We have nothing to gain other than to honour our parents’ wishes.