The Government doesn’t have an easy decision with 38 Oxley
Han Fook Kwang of the Straits Times said that the only matter that concerns the government is whether to preserve 38 Oxley Road and “that any other issue, including how the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew decided on his will and who his lawyers were has nothing to do with the Government, or with you and me, least of all a committee of ministers.”
The few options that the government has: demolish, preserve or some intermediate option, are all intricately linked to to Mr. Lee’s will.
The Prime Minister had never wanted to involve the Government. He specifically requested to be recused from decisions. This is hardly surprising. Any politically astute person would know that subjecting yourself to a conflict of interest would do you no favours.
The matter of 38 Oxley consists of three strands, each one intertwined with the other:
1.) Allegations on abuse of power by the Prime Minister
2.) Clarity on Mr. Lee’s will. Did he really want the house demolished? The demolition clause were in the earlier ones, but not later and it appeared again in his final will. Both law firms that were supposed to have drafted the final will curiously denied having done so.
3.) What should the Government do?
The allegations on abuse of power is the easier to be dealt with – its rightful platform would be an inquisition in Parliament. This is how peers are tried and Presidents impeached. As the holder of both Executive and Legislative powers, this is a matter for Parliament and not the Judiciary.
The second strand is the more difficult one. Clarity on Mr. Lee’s will would lead to a basis for the third strand: a decision on what the Government should do.
It is not as simple as “He said demolish, let’s just demolish”.
Lee Hsien Yang asked “Was Lee Kuan Yew unwavering in his demolition wish?” Well, the answer is – we do not know until a proper investigation had taken place. From reports of the matter from all siblings, the answer is not so clear.
A ministerial committee had been setup for this purpose. All stakeholders are questioned, inquiries are made and ultimately a decision has to arrived at. The decision is not for immediate action also, it is material for the government 20 or 30 years later. It may consist of Ministers and MPs who probably are mere infants today. It may be a Worker’s Party or a coalition government – people whom have never worked with Lee Kuan Yew or know the Lee family.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing much to do now but wait for the 3rd of July. Any newer material being spewed out now by any party would just make for more and more baseless allegations, or meaningless defences.
It is no longer merely a matter between 3 people in a family.