House And Home Divided

SUDDENLY, it’s become lonelier at the top.

The dramatic public nature of the spat between the Lee siblings raises flags on a number of fronts.

The issue of what to do with 38 Oxley Road, where the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his wife Kwa Geok Choo raised their family, and which served as a nerve centre for many policies that would define Singapore today, spilled into the public domain last week.

LKY’s request to demolish the house once his daughter Lee Wei Ling vacates it is being contested by the state. It’s viewed as a significant icon of the country.

Not many would have seen the house, since it sits on a limited access road and the presence of Gurkha guards meant you tended to hurry along if you found yourself on the road.

So, it’s more of a symbolic presence, and it’s unlikely many really care whether the house stands or falls.

Issues Raised

While public sentiment seems to agree that this is a private matter, on the back of the issue of the house there are others to consider, like the allegations of abuse of power and the veracity of the will left behind by LKY.

These are issues the average Singaporean — at least those who might rise above political apathy — would not dare voice publicly. But since the Lee siblings have opened the can, and the worms are out in the open, it would seem like the public is taking the bait.

Social media’s role in all this is quite significant, considering it started on Facebook with Lee Hsian Yang and his sister Wei Ling firing the first salvo. The high profile of the subject matter meant it would go viral. Which it has.

At a time when Singapore faces some serious challenges in terms of its future direction, this comes as a distracting body blow.

A curious cooling of the relationship with China, which is going great guns with its Belt & Road initiative, must be cause for concern, following Trump’s inward looking stance and the Brexit decision.

The economy is not robust, with companies looking for opportunities outside of Singapore, and people wondering what the future will bring.

Any hope that the matter would be resolved amicably will have to wait, now that PM Lee will make a Ministerial Statement on the matter on 3 July in Parliament, with the party whip lifted, which allows all MPs to weigh in.

“I hope that this full, public airing in Parliament will dispel any doubts that have been planted and strengthen confidence in our institutions and our system of government,” PM Lee said in a statement issued on Monday.

While this allows PM Lee to voice his views and those of the house he leads, how do we hear the other side of the argument?

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