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Friday, June 16, 2017

I Stand With LHL

In the whole FamiLEE saga, much is shrouded in mystery. It is an alarming story of He Say and They Say. Where the truth lies, nobody really knows. I would like to think that everyone is speaking truth but they are just looking at the issue from different perspectives. You know, like the blind man who asserted that the elephant was like a wall... and his equally blind colleague insisted that an elephant resembled a snake.

Yet, there are certain things we already know.

Lee Hsien Loong's Dynastic Aspirations
Firstly, LHL is planning his own retirement. His own political career has very little to gain from errr... moving into Oxley Road himself. His son has announced that he does not want to be in politics. You might call him a liar but seriously, he really does not look like he is interested. Where is he in grassroots work? Where was he when his Dad was campaigning? Even if you believe that LHL and HC have dynastic aspirations, have you tried making an adult/adolescent child fulfill your parental aspirations? Not even LKY could bring LWL to heel... and LKY was for decades, the most powerful man in Singapore.

I once chatted with a group of CEOs about staff motivation. They were thrilled when they heard that I was branching out into child motivation. They said that staff motivation was easier - hire, fire, bonus. Staff will heed their CEOs. CEO children do not. If LHL's son is not interested, there is no way any dynastic aspiration on the part of his aging parents will ever be fulfilled. 

So, what political mileage has LHL got to gain from preserving the house? Clearly nothing.

Lee Hsien Loong's Monetary Gains
He willingly sold his share to his siblings and even donated half the value of the house to charity. So, our PM was not looking at monetary gains either! Wouldn't it have been so easy for LHL to demolish the house and cash in? He did not have to sell his share to LHY, you know.

If we had a lesser man than LHL, he would have sold and cashed out his millions. No! He donated millions instead. Look across the causeway and see Mrs Najib spend USD$30 million on jewellery lohhhh... Man! I am so damn proud of Ho Ching for wearing slippers to the White House, and carrying a plastic purse.

Are those not LKY's values?

Lee Hsien Loong's Duty to the Nation
Now, don't forget, he is our Prime Minister. He has learnt at his father's knee to put Singaporeans first. Foremost on his mind is the need to preserve 38 Oxley Road as a historical record of Singapore's history. He would be thinking of future Singaporean children who need to see and learn about the values that built our nation. He would be sensitive to the lobbying of all the historians and archivists who must have been screaming blue murder at the thought of destroying the house.

How can we fault our PM for putting country before family?

Really? You want a PM to prioritise his family before Singaporeans? Then, go become a Malaysian lohhhh...

Lee Wei Ling's Desire To Stay At Oxley Road
I can understand that LWL wants to stay at Oxley Road. If I were the unmarried daughter, I too would want to stay there. However, simply for a selfish, personal desire to stay in a house, she has come out into the open to destroy OUR Prime Minister's social capital, political capital and global standing. This is plain wrong. Your selfish desire has hurt the whole country. 

The assertions are malicious and calculated to inflict maximum damage on a PM who has for the past 10 years, been struggling to redeem his track record. Can you not see him try?

Lee Hsien Yang's Desire To Demolish the House
For certain, it was LKY's wish, However, in the fulfillment of this wish, 38 Oxley Road represents humongous monetary gains for LHY and LSF. Inasmuch as LHL has nothing to gain and everything to lose (when his siblings come out to slander him), LHY has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Opposition MPs have been sued for saying less slanderous things about LHL. Till now, LHL has breathed no litigious word.

And really, it is ok to fight with your brother over your father's last wish. Plenty of people do that. However, to do it a way calculated to hurt an entire country is wrong. You hurt LHL. You hurt Singaporeans. Which part of that do you not get?

Why Set Up the "Secret" Committee?
Very secret meh? Even before this saga, the existence of this committee was publicised in the papers. Perhaps, the committee wished to understand better the circumstances of the drafting of the last will discreetly so that face might be saved for those who stand to gain millions from demolishing the house. Challenging the last will in court would have clear penalties for those found to have somehow influenced an old man to draft a last will in not exactly the way he really wanted.

He was very old and frail at that time... (and yet, his daughter quarrelled with him. Surely, for a father so old, one could close one eye and indulge him?)

A committee would have allowed LHL to get to the bottom of the matter without the courts punishing anyone.

Powers of the Committee
The government has a legal right to gazette anything in this country as a national monument. It could gazette my house if it wanted. Once gazetted, it belongs to all Singaporeans.

The government really doesn't NEED a committee to study the issue of 38, Oxley Road if there was a clear desire to disobey LKY's deathbed wish. The only reason I can think of, for this committee to be set up, is to ascertain whether the last will was INDEED LKY's true desire. If not, then the committee could go ahead and gazette the house as a national monument. If yes, then the committee would honour LKY's wishes.

Hence, LHL's 9 questions pertaining to LSF's involvement are very important. IF LSF and LHY had unduly influenced the drafting of the 7th will, then the government could exert its right to go right ahead to preserve the house for future generations of Singaporeans.

Bear in mind that there is no need for the committee. The government of the day has every legal right to designate 38 Oxley Rise a national monument, over riding LKY's will. No man is above the law. Not even LKY. He would not want to be above the law either.

Hence, if a committee was set up, it really was to honour LKY. However, to honour his last wish, it was necessary to know whether the 7th will was really his true last wish.


Robbing Singaporeans
If it should really turn out that LKY's last will was messed with, then LHY and LSF  are robbing the nation of our birthright. Standing between us and this loss is LHL! This should get personal for every Singaporean! Why are we not standing with our PM on this?


First Salvo
The desire to do hurt came first from LHY and LWL. It was they who brought this out into the open. To me, it was clear that they meant to hurt. If they were really afraid of a PM abusing his powers, they would have left the country already. Why are they still here?

Clearly, they know that LHL is too kind to sock it to them with the same ruthlessness that they socked it to him.





22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really emo when read your article... I really hate the siblings to publicise arguments over the house. Wow dun sound so filial keep saying LKY want to demolish the use he did state in any case it cannot be done just dun open house

Soo Sin Wang said...

Well explained. Very logical & makes sense of the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Obligatory read - https://www.facebook.com/notes/cherian-george/the-house-of-lee-no-touting-please/10154375004026612/

Elliot Tan said...

To me, this is not about a family quarrel over a house. It is really about LHY and LWL feeling monitored and threatened by Big Brother, that state powers will be used to destroy them, just as it had destroyed many of PAP's opponents.

Quickly going to the media and public is a way of defending themselves.

For citizens, this is a reminder of the kind of power we have allowed the elected party to wield.

Anonymous said...

Wah like as though you're part of the Lee Family.
Maybe you should recheck if you're a blind supporter in this case.

Najib may have lost $2 billion but the GIC ran by Ho Ching lost close to $60 billion now - maybe more that's unreported.
If you think our PM has done a really good job - check the stats > Highest cost of living for many years running, Income stagnation and now isolating SG from the region due to lack of tact when dealing with the Chinese government.

Good luck with that standing by our current PM.

Petunia Lee said...

Anonymous: I read your obligatory read. It was an excellent read indeed! It was LKY himself who taught us no man is above the law... and he did ride roughshod over many deceased patriarchs who made their wills clearly.

Petunia Lee said...

Elliot Tan - I must respectfully disagree with you. If LHL wished to make it difficult for his brother, he would have pursued the matter in court. Within Singapore, whether his siblings went public or not, LHL would lose enormous political capital if he used his powers against them indiscriminately. If they did not go public and LHL took action against them using his govt, do you think the public will not come to know? And once known, LHL would pay a hefty political cost. PAP would lose plenty of middle of the road voters like me. Till now, despite the tantrums of LHY, I don't see LHL sue him for slander.

On this blog, I have sharply criticised LHL's govt. Nothing happened to me leh... So, I really don't see LHL as a very Orwellian leader.

See blogpost here - http://petunialee.blogspot.sg/2013/02/the-of-south-east-asia.html

and

here... http://petunialee.blogspot.sg/2013/06/pointing-fingers-at-pap-government.html

and

here... http://petunialee.blogspot.sg/2015/09/no-more-fighting-can.html

Petunia Lee said...

Anonymous - Fortunately for me, I am not related to the FamiLEE. It is a heavy burden to be descended from an illustrious patriarch/matriarch. Many descendants of the Rothschild family change their names. A famous name is not a blessing.

I don't doubt that Temasek has lost much money and made some. Exact losses and gains... I am not in a position to conjecture. So, no comment.

I absolutely agree with you on cost of living, income stagnation and the dangers of offending China. I do believe that LHL's govt crafts ill-advised policies (guided by the capitalist free market thinking emanating from Harvard and a legacy of Reagan-Thatcherism...) but I don't believe that LHL's government is dishonest nor Orwellian in nature. These are different issues.

Anonymous said...

So now, to quote a counterpoint from prof Cherian George's article, "But maturation also demands that we pay close attention to the reasons Lee gave when he said, repeatedly, that he wanted his house flattened. This was in line with his well-known abhorrence of emotional pulls in politics, whether in the form of race, religion, language or charismatic personality. He wanted to build legitimacy around performance not identity, and to train Singaporeans to exercise a more clinical, legal-bureaucratic rationality."

If PM LHL is not amicable to this interpretation in the backdrop of this interview - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Lii0Jg5qw, then what is he going to make of the late MM's "legacy"? That his intent (legacy) was too, of "monetary gains", that his estate (legacy) left to his children is *dirty* ("untenable") and needs to be whitewashed with charity?

Re: "If they did not go public and LHL took action against them using his govt, do you think the public will not come to know?"
Fact of matter is, it remains to be seen what specific charges are being brought forth by LWL and LHY. Given contemporary cases of abuse and malfeasances around the world, one can never be too sure.

Petunia Lee said...

Anonymous... I am well aware of this counterpoint and I believe it is an excellent one. I simply don't think that it is an all or nothing scenario. The USA, the UK and France are very mature political institutions. USA has Mt Rushmore to commemorate its roots. The UK has all sorts of strange practices (and monuments) to remember history... from the tradition of slamming the door of the House of Commons in the face of the Gentleman of the Usher of the Black Rod... and the statue of William Wallace within Stirling Castle. France has statues of Charlemagne.

Did these commemorative practices prevent political maturation? No.

Preserving the house in a form that still protects the late LKY's privacy... a privacy he promised his wife... is entirely appropriate since LKY's will did in fact allow for this possibility (even in the 7th will). Teo Chee Hean has made it clear that members of the public will not be allowed to walk through the house and gawk at LKY's private habits. He has also made clear that the site will not be razed for private residences. I just browsed through an architectural research thesis on what to do with the house. Why not let the scholars study the matter before we start yelling at LHL for being unfilial?

The fact is that LKY was not just the Father of 3 children. He was the Father of Singapore and Singaporeans deserve to have something to remember him by. It was clear from his funeral that the whole nation loved him. As PM, LHL is not just LWL and LHY's eldest brother... he is also custodian of our country's history. The government of today has a responsibility to preserve a narrative of our nation's birth.

Re: Fact of matter is, it remains to be seen what specific charges are being brought forth by LWL and LHY. Given contemporary cases of abuse and malfeasances around the world, one can never be too sure.

Fact of the matter is that LHL was loathe to challenge the will in court, out of respect for familial ties. He believed that he had cause enough and yet he stayed his hand... for 2 years. That is forbearance already... no matter what new provocations LWL and LHY heap on him.

Petunia Lee said...

RE: If PM LHL is not amicable to this interpretation in the backdrop of this interview - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Lii0Jg5qw, then what is he going to make of the late MM's "legacy"? That his intent (legacy) was too, of "monetary gains", that his estate (legacy) left to his children is *dirty* ("untenable") and needs to be whitewashed with charity?

I think you make a good point. What is private property should remain so. Nothing stops the government from gazetting the property and paying market price to LHY. The children have a right to inherit LKY's private financials. However, these issues can be talked through reasonably without resorting to openly defaming Singapore's PM. If money is at the root of it then come out and say so.... and a solution can be found when people put their heads together.

I think we expect too much of our PM, LHL. He should not have had to forego his own inheritance. However, it is this act of foregoing his own inheritance that impresses many middle of the road voters like me. People don't follow people like themselves. They follow their betters. In doing what he did, I am willing to acknowledge PM LHL a better man than I am... and give him my respect.

Petunia Lee said...

However, if the government pays LHY market price for 38 Oxley Road, it cannot be seen as LHL's decision. It must be a decision taken without him or else he would be accused of mercenary motives. Hence, a committee is appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Did the late MM Lee or prof Cherian George say to do away with all "commemorative practices"? If not, why the straw man argument here? Would the reasonable person not conclude "there's better use for this private estate than make a Frankenstein of a public exhibit" as far as his will is concerned, particularly on organic occupancy? If that's the position of the commemorated person himself, why hijack that "legacy" undermining its authenticity?

Incidentally, we might say political maturity is about arguing to the point instead of unpointed counters that can be construed as "poisoning the well", as it is in the case of PM Lee's statutory declaration. I opine that it could have been a much more complete and comprehensive address for leaving no doubts.

Fact of the matter may be that PM Lee wishes to avoid court, but fact of the matter may not be "out of respect for familial ties" (read: syllogism).

Petunia Lee said...

You Wrote (1): "Did the late MM Lee or prof Cherian George say to do away with all "commemorative practices"? If not, why the straw man argument here?"

My Response (1): This was not what I meant by all or nothing. I will elaborate in (2) below. You are right (and I agree with you) that Cherian George did not say to do away with commemorative practices. Indeed, he clearly stated - "Number 38 Oxley Road may be just a house, but it is not just a space; it is a place, invested with meaning by a family and a nation. If we treat places like mere spaces and subject them to cold calculation, we’ll rob them of emotion and memory, and lose a bit of what turns a collection of people into a community. We need to approach the matter with open hearts and minds.” Hence, he acknowledges that 38 Oxley Road has meaning and emotion precious enough to consider preserving in order that a collection of Singaporeans stay a community. I agree with him on that. Clearly, you do too.

You Wrote (2): "Would the reasonable person not conclude 'there's better use for this private estate than make a Frankenstein of a public exhibit' as far as his will is concerned, particularly on organic occupancy? If that's the position of the commemorated person himself, why hijack that "legacy" undermining its authenticity?

My Response (2): Cold reason is not all that makes life worth living, nor a nation. A feeling reasonable Singaporean would not agree to allowing organic occupancy to determine the use of this private estate. Organic occupancy would fill the space with multi-billion dollar condominiums. I think it was earlier clarified by Teo Chee Hean that there is no question of creating a Frankenstein of a public exhibit. This is where I situate my all or nothing statement. Why does it either have to be a Frankenstein or an organic occupancy? The Committee has a job to do, to study and create elegant options that are neither. There is no need for the siblings to go public in so damning and malicious a manner. Simply allow the Committee to do its job and understand that LHL has a public duty to his nation.

Petunia Lee said...

You Wrote (3): Incidentally, we might say political maturity is about arguing to the point instead of unpointed counters that can be construed as "poisoning the well", as it is in the case of PM Lee's statutory declaration. I opine that it could have been a much more complete and comprehensive address for leaving no doubts.

My Response (3): Part of political maturity is to respect existing governance and legal institutions. Prof Cherian George pointed out - Nowhere is this principle more apparent than in Lee’s land policies. Countless patriarchs’ plans for their property holdings have been dashed by Lee’s all-powerful land acquisition laws—freehold leases be damned. Countless others, who would have undoubtedly preferred their final resting places to be exactly that, have been dug up from their graves when the state decided their cemetery plots were needed for other purposes. If everyone else’s voice from the grave can be vetoed by the government, it’s not clear why Lee Kuan Yew’s should be the exception—especially when the government’s hardnosed, unsentimental approach to such matters is utterly in Lee’s own image. "

PM LHL inherited a system of governance put in place by his father. He cannot flout this system just because of LKY’s express personal wishes. The Committee has to do its job to navigate the narrow straits between bending over backwards to satisfy LKY’s personal wishes and the laws that govern the gazetting of national monuments. I do not see PM Lee’s statutory declaration as poisoning the well. I believe that he had reason to be confused as to the circumstances in which the 7th will was drafted and executed… especially since KKL has clearly stated that she did not prepare it… The Committee was reasonable in wishing clarification and now that it is outed, the normal Singaporean wish clarification too.

You Wrote (4) Fact of the matter may be that PM Lee wishes to avoid court, but fact of the matter may not be "out of respect for familial ties" (read: syllogism) -

My Response (4) No syllogism here. I did not have to reason this out. I merely take what LHL himself stated as fact. He did not wish adverse publicity on the family to preserve his father's legacy. Apart from house, nation and money, LKY left behind a legacy of familial ties between siblings... underpinned by values.

Unless of course, you believe LHL lied. If so, the argument that he wished to stay out of the courts for his own political career, does not ring true. He is retiring soon. The argument that he did it for dynastic ambitions also does not ring true in view of Li Hong Yi’s behaviour to date. Would there be any other reason why he would want to stay out of the courts? If so, do enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

"Why does it either have to be a Frankenstein or an organic occupancy?"

Because it's not natural for a public exhibit (or shrine-like premise, some may infer), no matter how partitioned, to be drawing tourists into the private estate.

"I do not see PM Lee’s statutory declaration as poisoning the well. I believe that he had reason to be confused as to the circumstances in which the 7th will was drafted and executed…"

The validity of those circumstances is another debate altogether. But because PM Lee had allowed the meltdown to ferment instead of seeking prompt resolution, it would appear that his statements served no more than "poisoning the well".

"No syllogism here. I did not have to reason this out. I merely take what LHL himself stated as fact."

The matter of an observed fact is not the same as that of a self-proclamation. Your return on "fact of matter" would then be non sequitur to mine, if not syllogistically incorrect.

JL said...

Hi I just want to point out that in LHL's statutory declaration, he stated he donated 50% of the value of the house as per the agreement with LHY. But he also voluntarily donated another 50% of the value of the house to charity ie he did not retain ANY of the proceeds for himself.

Petunia Lee said...

You Wrote (1): Because it's not natural for a public exhibit (or shrine-like premise, some may infer), no matter how partitioned, to be drawing tourists into the private estate.

My Response (1): This is indeed a very good point. It would be very disruptive to the properties around to have hordes of people visiting a commemorative site. I am sure the committee (along with urban planners) could consider this. An option is to expand the area scope of the site and create a park in the centre of town. It would no longer be a private estate thus. Such parks do exist in many built-up areas - Montparnasse has a vineyard that draws tourists... Beijing has Zhongshan Park... but I should not be doing the work of the Committee. I would still maintain that it does not have to be an all or nothing solution. However, I really should not over stretch myself. I am not in the Committee and am not trained in urban planning nor heritage preservation. Again, I would let the Committee do its work. Studies are ongoing.
_________________
You Wrote (2): But because PM Lee had allowed the meltdown to ferment instead of seeking prompt resolution, it would appear that his statements served no more than "poisoning the well".

My Reponse (2): I am assuming that you mean that LWL and LHY's concerns were allowed to ferment in the days before the public disclosure? If so, I am not privy to those observations and cannot comment. From the perspective of one unrelated person who saw PM's relatively fast response to grave accusations, laying out some of LHL's own observations, I did not see anything left to ferment in public. I do concede that for such a blow up to have happened, things must have fermented long, unseen to the public. I am ever so sorry that it did turn out this way. I sincerely hope that love will prove stronger than any emotional ferment or poison.

__________________
You Wrote (3): The matter of an observed fact is not the same as that of a self-proclamation. Your return on "fact of matter" would then be non sequitur to mine, if not syllogistically incorrect.

My Response (3): I concede that an observed fact is not the same as that of a self-proclamation. I also see why my response would be a non sequitur to yours. I have been loose and imprecise in my use of language, not realising that I am discussing with someone quite possibly legally trained. I meant to say that I believe LHL's self-proclamation (and I believe it to be fact)... and that if there are other reasons why he might wish to avoid the courts, I don't what they are, and ask to be enlightened.

Do bear in mind that I know LHL only from his long years of service to Singapore. Through those years, I know that whilst he might be ill-advised and leery of overt confrontation (thus perhaps he does not reveal as much as he should), he is not a man after his own gain. His years dedicated to Singapore have been sincere and honest. These are my observations.



Anonymous said...

One thing that puzzles me, if LWL selfishly want to stay and LHY would like to demolish it to have monetary gain, shouldn't they are at each other throat instead of banding together against LHL? I still don't get the logic of the pact.... according to your description on both LWL and LHY as selfishly want to stay and LHY humongous monetary gain.

Wang said...

Anon June 18, 2017 at 8:40 AM

To reply solely on your focus just on losses, the US$60B loss was marked to market loss mainly (valuation) and publicised and can be analysed.

Further,it has been recovered, performance of the fund must be viewed overall and not just on the losses.

Frankly,to use a simple analogy, does any bank makes money on all loans in its portfolio, no, however, overall, it does make money

If it is that real, there would be other major economic consequences considering that SGD is not like the USD, the reserve currency of choice for trade.

Mdm Petunia, all I can say that sometimes, just let the facts speak for themselves, if people wish to perceive the worst, they will, no facts will dissuade. This applies equally to both left and right axis of the political sphere. However, for centrists it does matter and we will judge and make decisions in due accord.

Wishing you a good day and week ahead.

Petunia Lee said...

Thank you, Wang.

Petunia Lee said...

RE: One thing that puzzles me...

I don't know. I can only take what has been revealed. LWL said that she wanted to live there very badly. LHY said that he wanted to demolish it very badly. How the 2 link up is anyone's guess.