Lee siblings agree to take Oxley Road dispute offline
Siblings' offer to take Oxley Road house dispute offline accepted by PM Lee
The three Lee siblings have reached a truce by agreeing to take their dispute over their late father's house offline.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his younger siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, issued statements yesterday stating their intention to keep their family spat out of the public eye.
PM Lee said in a statement last night: "I share their wish not to carry on the dispute in public and to manage the disagreement in private. That is exactly what I have been trying to do."
His comments followed a seven-page joint statement yesterday morning from his siblings offering a conditional ceasefire.
They said they would stop attacking their older brother, provided that "we and our father's wish are not attacked or misrepresented".
"We look forward to talking without the involvement of lawyers or government agencies," they said.
"It seems that releasing further evidence on social media at this time will only muddy the facts, and put pressure on government agencies to make excuses for PM Lee."
This development comes three weeks after the siblings fired the first salvo on Facebook, accusing PM Lee of misusing his power to set up a "secret" ministerial committee.
They alleged that he wanted to ensure their former family home at 38, Oxley Road, was not demolished, which would go against the wishes of their late father, founding PM Lee Kuan Yew.
My sense is that the Lee siblings may realise that the rather public private feud is heading nowhere, and that generating more acrimonious exchanges on social media would hurt rather than help their cause, with their father’s legacy becoming collateral damage.Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser
They decided to take their grievances online claiming there was no "neutral and unbiased venue" to resolve their differences privately.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee said they had privately offered PM Lee a ceasefire shortly after their first statement on June 14, but were "rebuffed".
But PM Lee, who is in Germany for the G20 summit, pointed out in his statement that the offer came with conditions.
They wanted him to call off his ministerial statement and the debate in Parliament, disband the ministerial committee, and not respond to their accusations.
"I could not agree to do any of that. It would have been improper and irresponsible," PM Lee said.
As for their allegations against him, he said: "I have already refuted these and stand by what I have said."
The siblings' allegations about the ministerial committee have also been addressed in Parliament, said Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean, who called their intention to take the dispute offline a "positive development".
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser of the National University of Singapore said the ceasefire could have come about because of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's reprimand of the siblings in Parliament on Tuesday.
ESM Goh had questioned their motives, saying that they had wanted to bring PM Lee down "regardless of the huge collateral damage suffered by the Government and Singaporeans".
Prof Tan told The New Paper: "My sense is that the Lee siblings may realise that the rather public private feud is heading nowhere, and that generating more acrimonious exchanges on social media would hurt rather than help their cause, with their father's legacy becoming collateral damage.
"They may also realise that some people who seemingly champion their cause are not necessarily on their side, but using them to try to destroy their brother, the PM. So even if they were to win the war of words, it'd be a tragic Pyrrhic victory."
He added that the family dispute had put the political institutions through a kind of "stress test".
"A positive outcome, in the sense of no evidence of abuse of power or conflicts of interest, as well as the readiness of the PM to be questioned in Parliament, and indirectly the people, would in my view boost, rather than hurt, our reputation," he said.
"After all, one never knows how strong an institution is, unless it has been proven to survive a serious stress test."
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