By: Raist Arithon
There have been recent PAP efforts to cast doubt on what was LKY’s true intention regarding his house at 38 Oxley Road. They have also tried to dispute whether LKY truly knew what he was signing when he signed his Final Will on 17 Dec 2013.
I strongly believe that these efforts are both desperate and disingenuous. (I fully recognise that LKY’s wishes are, strictly speaking, unrelated to whether the Government has a right to preserve the house. However, the fact is that convincing Singaporeans that LKY may have been open to his house being demolished is key, for political reasons. They can’t be seen to be so explicitly going against LKY’s wishes after all).
I am moved to write this note partly because I have intelligent and well-educated friends who are being hoodwinked. There is no doubt in my mind (and I say this with the utmost objectivity) that LKY definitely wanted his house to be demolished. We can have a discussion on whether his house should be preserved (for various reasons such as heritage etc) notwithstanding his wishes, but what his wishes actually were is inarguable.
1. The Final Will was executed on 17 Dec 2013. This is a full 21 months before LKY passed away. There was no suggestion that he did not have full command of his faculties at the time. LKY was also serving as an MP at the time.
2. LHL and others have brought up the fact that it took “just 15 minutes” for the entire signing of the will and that therefore LKY may not have been properly advised. The will is a mere 4 pages long, and was something LKY was familiar with. LKY’s assistant was present throughout the signing, according to the meeting notes of the lawyers/witnesses.
3. As LHY also pointed out, I find it bordering on the ridiculous to suggest that LKY (!!!), a cambridge-trained lawyer, had to be advised on the contents of his will, which he signed on every page and also initialed right below the demolition clause.
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4. LHY quoted an email dated 16 Dec 2013 from LKY stating “OK. Do not wait for Kim Li. Engross and I will sign it before a solicitor in Fern’s office, or from any other office”. This is one day before he actually signed the Final Will. It appears to me that LKY knew exactly what he was doing. It would also not be a leap to assume that he was replying to an email containing the final draft of the will since he uses the word “engross”, which lawyers often use when okaying a draft.
5. When the final draft had been executed, it was given to Kwa Kim Li for safekeeping. Kwa is a very senior lawyer and managing partner of Lee & Lee. It would not a be a stretch to assume that she would have at the very least glanced through the Final Will and perhaps confirmed verbally with LKY that he really knew what he was doing, especially if she had any suspicion that LKY was not in full command of his faculties.
Now let’s also look at the surrounding circumstances:
a. LKY himself said publicly several times that he wanted the house to be demolished upon his death.
b. LHL himself acknowledged in a private email dated 12 April 2015 timed at 7.02 pm (this would have been after the Final Will had been read to the family on the same day) that LKY’s position “has been consistent throughout. Even his note to [Cabinet] did not say that he wanted it preserved, only what has to be done if it is not to be demolished”.
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c. LHL also acknowledge publicly on 13 April 2015 that “Mr Lee’s position on 38 Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values”.
Both (b) and (c) took place way after the Final Will had been signed and also after the Final Will was read to the family on 12 April 2015. If he truly had suspicions, why did LHL not suggest at the time that LKY did not want the house to be demolished?
Why is the PAP now trying so hard to convince Singaporeans that LKY might not have really wanted his house demolished? The only reason I can think of is that they need popular support to demolish the house without losing too much political capital. Any other suggestions?
Source: Raist Arithon FB