Let me take a stab at it as I just answered a similar question. Here is the text:
This is a complicated issue in which both parties are right and wrong. Before down voting me for such a copout type answer, please do hear me out…..
The story as we know it (15th June 2017 – PS: My answer was written before LHL’s written rebuttal):
- LKY stated many times before his passing that he would like his house demolished if his daughter moved out. If a change in the law forbade that, he would like his house not to be opened to the public and that only his children, grandchildren and dependents would be allowed to visit;
- LKY did not want any monuments to himself and often quoted Shelley’s sonnet Ozymandias – he wanted people to respect his work and to continue it, rather than build a shrine to himself;
- LKY also believed that demolishing his house would increase the value of the property around his house, possibly “compensating” his neighbors for inconveniencing them while he was living there;
- That LKY wanted his house in Oxley demolished after his passing should be beyond contestation.
After LKY’s passing, LHL did not immediately slate LKY’s house for demolition but set up a government group to decide what to do. LWL and LHY probably got into a bit of a fracas with LHL as they all knew what LKY’s wishes were and felt that LHL was not respecting their father’s wish.
Now, from here onwards is only my interpretation and speculation. All errors are mine only:
LHL the man internally agrees with LWL and LHY as he must have heard his father’s wishes. Any filial son would strive to fulfill the last wish of his father and I believe LHL is no different.
But LHL wears two different hats: (1) as the son of LKY, and (2) as the Prime Minister of Singapore. If LHL only had the “”Son of LKY” hat, I sincerely believe that he would wholeheartedly agree with LWL and LHY to demolish the house. However, what is causing him to hesitate is his Prime Minister hat.
As Prime Minister, one of his responsibilities is to represent the wishes of the people, and he is conflicted as he is being asked to choose between his personal and official capacities. If he supports the demolition of the house before finding out the wishes of the people, he would be disregarding one of his official responsibilities as Prime Minister. Although the Singaporean people would not blame LHL for making that decision, I think his personal integrity would not allow him to do that.
If the government group he appointed (after extensive study) shows that the majority of people in Singapore support LKY’s final wish to have his house demolished, then I dare say LHL will sigh with relief and immediately sign the order (personal crisis averted). If the studies show that the majority of people in Singapore do not support the demolition, LHL will leave the decision to the government group to decide. The worst outcome for LHL is if the government group decides not to demolish the house, then he would have to live with that decision, knowing that he (in his official capacity) thwarted the last wish of his own father. Imagine how he would live with himself so have some empathy please.
LHY and LWL
They claim in essence that:
- LHL is going against the wishes of the late LKY. LHL has explained his position to them but they think he is giving excuses;
- They understand it as – LHL is ignoring the wishes of their late father and their rationale is that LHL wants to maintain the Oxley House so as to show that he has a symbol of LKY and to maintain the house would be to give LHL and his decendants a sort of “mandate” to rule Singapore.
- That LHL wants to create a dynasty and get his son to go into politics too – This I feel is a bit of a rant as LHL has officially stated that this is not so (Straits Times). If this is true in the future, his credibility will be adversely affected, so I believe LHL.
- The rest of the dispute (organs of state may cause them harm etc etc) is just that: no evidence has been shown to prove their point. This doesn’t make it untrue, but I maintain that I give LHL the benefit of doubt.
My view is that both LHY and LWL are not politicians – not politicians the way western countries defines politicians, but what LKY said about them. In LKY’s book, he felt that only LHL had the right temperament, interest and experience to be a politician. A politician in the LKY mould would have placed personal integrity, intelligence, temperament at the very foremost of his choice, and if LKY thought his son LHL was capable, I will not take the opposite stand. My point is that non-politicians may not personally understand the conflict between their personal and official capacities, and view LHL’s actions as plainly going against the wishes of their father.
Would LHL benefit if LKY’s house is converted into a “LKY shrine”? Perhaps but I submit that this advantage is incidental and does not play a part in LHL’s deliberations (remember what I said previously about personal integrity?)
LWL and LHY probably had no other recourse to change LHL’s mind and had to resort to public opinion. However, airing dirty family laundry in public is distasteful for all Singaporeans but needs must in their view. In this way, they hope to galvanize public opinion such that Singaporeans support the demolition of the house. If this happens, alls well that ends well.
- all the siblings have the same wish
- LHY & LWL feel that LHL is stubborn and LHL’s decision to convene a government group is to try and thwart their father’s last wish. They also rationalize that the only reason why he would do this was for his own personal benefit.
- LHL feels that as Prime Minster, he has an overriding responsibility to the people of Singapore, and a government group should seek to find out the views of the Singaporean people before any decision is made. LWL & LHY disagree as they believe there is nothing to discuss – the decision has already been taken by their father.
In absence of any other evidence, I applaude LHL for his personal integrity, courage and potential sacrifice for going up against his own family, protecting the integrity of his public office. Not many people would do that….Prime Minister, your stock just went up in my books.
PS. I am an independent thinker and no government stooge – I do not work for the Singapore government or LHL and at no point have I ever been a Government scholar.