Friday, 23 June 2017

The famiLEE feud: Rise of the 'First Lady'

Singapore PM's Family Feud Reveals Rise of the 'First Lady'

On April 15, 2010, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was interviewed by Charlie Rose on American national television and declared without reservation that if anyone suggested that Singapore has a dynastic government – if there was any hint of nepotism – then he would sue them.

That was then. Seven years and two months later, on June 14, 2017, his own brother and sister (Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling) accused him of exactly that. He has not sued them, but his brother has said he will flee the country in fear of unspecified repercussions from his conflict with his brother. They accuse him not only of having dynastic ambitions for his son, Li Hongyi, but also of abusing his power as prime minister in his effort to "advance his personal agenda" and of cowering the local press into timid silence.

The tipping point of the dispute is the last will and testament of the family patriarch, Lee Kuan Yew, who died on 23 March 2015. The specific point of dispute is disposal of the family home: Lee Kuan Yew wanted it bulldozed; Lee Hsien Loong wants it preserved and heritage listed. More to the point, he is accused of using the power of Cabinet and his Attorney-General (formerly his personal solicitor) to make it so. (Last week Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong confirmed Cabinet had set up an internal ministerial committee to consider the options for the house but PM Lee had not been involved in the committee's discussions.) The PM's younger siblings have enlisted the power of Facebook and the foreign media (bypassing the Singapore press) to stop him.

related: 12 separate mentions of Ho Ching as a player in the public statement released by Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling

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SONS, MOTHERS, MONEY AND MEMORY: THEORIES ABOUT THE LEE KUAN YEW FAMILY FEUD
Ho Ching, chief executive of Singapore’s mammoth investment fund, Temasek Holdings, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife. Photo: AFP

Ho Ching, a scientist – and President’s Scholar.

She rose to become chief executive of Singapore’s mammoth investment fund, Temasek Holdings. She has held that post for the past 15 years.

Last year, Ho Ching ranked number 30 in the Forbes’ list of most powerful women in the world.

related: WHO’S WHO IN THE LEE KUAN YEW FAMILY FEUD

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‘WORSE THAN THE KARDASHIANS’: LEE KUAN YEW FAMILY FEUD TURNS UGLY AS SIBLINGS TARGET SINGAPORE PRIME MINISTER’S WIFE
The bitter public quarrel among the family of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has taken a turn for the worse, as the two feuding sides engaged in a fresh social media skirmish centred on the leader’s wife

It was not the first time Ho Ching had found herself caught in the crossfire of the battle over the estate of her father-in-law Lee Kuan Yew, the late founding leader of the city state. On Thursday, she was put front and centre of the feud as the premier’s brother Lee Hsien Yang launched new accusations on Facebook claiming his sister-in-law “helped herself” to personal items belonging to the family patriarch as he lay on his death bed in February 2015.

He posted documentary evidence that he claimed showed Ho Ching removing the items from the elder Lee’s house, and donating them to the National Heritage Board a day after he was admitted to hospital for the last time on February 5, 2015. Lee Kuan Yew died at age 91 seven weeks later, on March 23, 2015.

But the latest allegation was left standing on shaky ground on Friday after the heritage board said the dates on the documents were inaccurate due to a “clerical error” – with the actual date of its receipt of the items being April 6, 2015. Official accounts meanwhile put the leader’s wife overseas when her father-in-law was sent to hospital. Lee Hsien Yang, one of the two younger Lee siblings entrusted with executing Lee Kuan Yew’s final will, remained defiant after the contradictions were revealed.

related: What’s really behind the Lee Kuan Yew family feud?

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HO CHING SPEAKS UP FOR FIRST TIME, REMINDS SIBLINGS LKY WOULD NOT WANT THEM TO SQUABBLE

The next salvo in the ongoing saga is now fired by none other than Ho Ching herself. Seems like every night someone from the famiLEE are saying something or another, only for the person to refute and allege something else, and on and on it continues. Ho Ching had thus far remained quiet, but a week after this feud broke, she finally broke her silence.

The noise coming from Ho Ching now is that she claims she had informed the Lee siblings about the items loaned to the National Heritage Board, and she vehemently claimed that she had informed Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling about what she did when tidying up the house at 38, Oxley Road after Mr Lee’s funeral.

In her reply, she also managed to insinuate that the cleaning up process was hard work, and she had to do it, as she did not see either Lee Wei Ling or Lee Hsien Yang’s wife capable of doing such “dogsbody” work.

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Ho Ching: I did “dogsbody work” like a maid after Papa died

Ho Ching has just responded on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook page today (June 12), and the Prime Minister’s wife wrote a long sob story of how she did “dogsbody work” like a maid after Lee Kuan Yew died:

“However, you may remember that after papa’s funeral, you went off with Fern for a break in Japan or somewhere. I began tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, dogsbody work as I mentioned to you before, which I couldn’t see Ling or Fern doing.”

Ho Ching in her response wrote that she was overseas on 6 Feb 2015. However, she was not able to explain her theft on 6 April 2015, or why did the items she claimed she collected were already displayed on exhibition on 25 March 2015.

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Ho Ching comments on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook post

Ho Ching has on Friday, June 23, personally responded on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook post.

She clarified the circumstances that resulted in the belongings of Lee Kuan Yew to be loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB) for a memorial exhibition. This is Ho Ching’s full post in response to Lee Hsien Yang:
  • I was away from 31 January night till 7 Feb evening, when I went with Loong to Germany and Spain for his official and working visits. I was not in Singapore on 6 Feb.
  • In any case, there would not be any reason for me to rummage or tidy up papa’s things when he was in the hospital – that is not me nor my values.
  • However, you may remember that after papa’s funeral, you went off with Fern for a break in Japan or somewhere. I began tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, dogsbody work as I mentioned to you before, which I couldn’t see Ling or Fern doing. This was what I had also done at papa’s request after mama’s death. Ling was in Oxley, and I had kept her posted, while trying not to intrude into her grieving.

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HO CHING REMINDS SIBLINGS LKY WOULD NOT WANT THEM TO SQUABBLE

In her reply, she also managed to insinuate that the cleaning up process was hard work, and she had to do it, as she did not see either Lee Wei Ling or Lee Hsien Yang's wife capable of doing such "dogsbody" work.

She also said that at all times, she had informed all the siblings about her actions, and whenever she found interesting things for NHB, she would tell the siblings and they were agreeable to the items being put on show. She also reiterated that these items are loaned out from the estate, and must be returned.

She ended her reply by tugging on the family heartstrings by saying "I hope that whatever you are upset about, you will have the heart to remember what papa and mama would have wanted most for the family and for Singapore." Spoken like a true diplomat.

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Ho Ching faults Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter and other daughter-in-law for not doing ‘women’s work’

Commenting on her brother-in-law, Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook about how she chanced upon some of the items from Lee Kuan Yew’s house (which were later loaned to National Heritage Board), Madam Ho Ching said that she was only “tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, (work) which I couldn’t see Ling or Fern doing.”

Madam Ho took leave in late March 2015 after the death of her father-in-law, and extended her sabbatical until October of that year. She pointed out that Lee Hsien Yang’s wife not only not clean and tidy up the house but also went off with her husband to Japan for a break after Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral.

Madam Ho did not say if her husband or Lee Hsien Yang helped clean, tidy up and organise items in Lee Kuan Yew’s family home at 38 Oxley Road after the passing away of Singapore’s first Prime Minister. She however reminded Lee Hsien Yang that she did the same kind of ‘dogsbody work’ after his mother, Kwa Geok Choo, passed away.

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Mdm Ho Ching finally joins the FamiLee 

It all happened after Lee Hsien Yang claimed in a Facebook post Mdm Ho had “helped herself to a number of Lee Kuan Yew’s papers” on Feb 6, 2015. The thing is, Mdm Ho wasn’t even in Singapore on that date. She was accompanying PM Lee on an official trip in Spain.

That wasn’t the only thing that Lee Hsien Yang got wrong. National Heritage Board (NHB) have also clarified that the items were handed over to NHB on Apr 6, 2015, well after the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away. He has since edited his post though.

Still, not satisfied with all that explanation, Lee Hsien Yang kept on accusing Mdm Ho of wrongdoing. Maybe it was the veiled accusation that she’s a thief finally made Mdm Ho finally buay tahan. Because she left a comment on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook page in response. Here are the three key points of Mdm Ho’s comment.
  • Mdm Ho was tidying the house while Lee Hsien Yang went on holiday
  • Mdm Ho found interesting items for an exhibition on Lee Kuan Yew’s life
  • Mdm Ho kept Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling posted through it all

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Lee Hsien Loong 11 hrs 

Ho Ching explains how my father’s items were handled after he passed away, with my siblings kept in the loop. Questions had been raised about her role in the loan of some of these items to NHB. The loan was openly done, and for a good cause – an exhibition remembering my father soon after he died. – LHL

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FamiLEE saga: The hoo-ha over Ho Ching… hmmm

THAT was a masterly response from Madam Ho Ching! Read her post and you can see an Asian aunty tidying up after pampered children. You can see her with a broom and a dustpan carrying out the dutiful daughter-in-law responsibilities – or being a “dogsbody’’, as she put it rather old-fashionedly.

This image hardly tallies with the Lee siblings’ first description of her as a power hungry matriarch with too much influence over civil servants. She was, they said, the opposite of their mother, the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo.

“Singapore has no such thing as the wife of the prime minister being a ‘first lady,’” they said in a joint statement released on June 14, 2017. “During those many years, his [Lee Kuan Yew’s] wife (our mother) consistently avoided the limelight, remaining his stalwart supporter and advisor in private. She lived discreetly, and set a high bar for the conduct of a prime minister’s wife. She would never instruct Permanent Secretaries or senior civil servants. The contrast between her and Ho Ching could not be more stark. While Ho Ching holds no elected or official position in government, her influence is pervasive, and extends well beyond her job purview.”

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Ho Ching responds, claims Hsien Yang gave approval for her to liaise with NHB on Kuan Yew’s artefacts

Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Friday (Jun 23) said she had informed the Lee siblings about the items loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB).

She was responding to Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook post accusing her of “theft and intermeddling”.

In a long Facebook comment, she said Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling and Suet Fern was kept updated about what she was doing with the papers and that Hsien Yang had also gave his approval for Ho Ching to arrange with the National Heritage Board (NHB) to pick up items for Lee Kuan Yew’s exhibition.

related:
Ho Ching was abroad on the date LHY alleged that she took Kuan Yew’s papers
LHY may have obtained confidential information before the Final Will was read
LHY now claims the removal of LKY’s papers consitute “theft and intermeddling”

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Ho Ching refutes Lee Hsien Yang’s claim that she 'helped herself' to Lee Kuan Yew’s papers

Ho Ching on Friday (23 June) refuted a claim by her brother-in-law Lee Hsien Yang that she had “helped herself” to a number of Lee Kuan Yew’s papers a day after the late Prime Minister was admitted to hospital.

In a direct reply to Hsien Yang’s post on Facebook on Thursday, Ho, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also clarified the events that led to the loan of several items belonging to the late Lee to the National Heritage Board (NHB).

Hsien Yang claimed that on 6 February 2015, a day after the late Lee was rushed to an intensive care unit, Ho had taken a number of the late Lee’s papers and handed them to the NHB under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office.

related:
PM Lee obtained deed of gift for Oxley items in official capacity: Lawrence Wong
PAP took Lee Kuan Yew’s note to Cabinet ‘out of context’: Lee Wei Ling
Ministerial Committee ‘refused to identify’ full membership for almost a year: LWL
NHB error on collection date for LKY’s items ‘even more troubling’: Hsien Yang
LHL told Lee Kuan Yew he wanted Oxley house to be heritage site:LHY
Workers’ Party to ask about abuse of power allegations arising from Lee family feud
PM Lee apologises for family feud affecting Singaporeans’ confidence in Govt
Lee Wei Ling raps Shanmugam for view on conflict of interest
COMMENT: House of Lee feud takes on national significance
PM Lee’s new stance over Oxley Road house led to my statement with LWL: LHY

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Ho Ching responds to Lee Hsien Yang regarding Lee Kuan Yew's items loaned to NHB
Mdm Ho Ching on Fri (Jun 23) clarified the circumstances under which the belongings of Mr Lee Kuan Yew were loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB) for a memorial exhibition on the founding Prime Minister

The late Mr Lee's youngest son, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, claimed on Thursday that Mdm Ho had “helped herself to a number of Lee Kuan Yew’s papers” on Feb 6, 2015, while the elder Mr Lee had been "gravely ill" in hospital.

In a comment posted on Mr Lee's FB page, Mdm Ho confirmed that she had been overseas at the time, accompanying her husband, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on official visits to Germany & Spain

"In any case, there would not be any reason for me to rummage or tidy up papa’s things when he was in the hospital – that is not me nor my values," Mdm Ho wrote.

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PM Lee's wife: I informed Lee siblings about NHB loans
PM Lee's wife: I informed Lee siblings about NHB loans

Ms Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, yesterday said she had informed the Lee siblings about items belonging to their father that were loaned to the National Heritage Board (NHB).

She gave her account of how the items were found, how she discussed their significance with her husband and arranged for the donation to the NHB, with the siblings kept updated.

She said this in a reply on Mr Lee Hsien Yang's Facebook page, a day after he accused her of taking away items belonging to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew from his 38, Oxley Road, home. He had said this "constitutes both theft and intermeddling".

related:
Will accepts alternatives to demolition: Indranee Rajah
Lee Hsien Yang responds to brother PM Lee

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Ho Ching says Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Weiling posted of what she had done after will was read on 12 April

Ms Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has replied Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY)'s allegations in a Facebook comment posted on one of LHY's posts. Addressing LHY affectionately as "Yang", Ms Ho clarified that she was not in Singapore on 6 Feb as she was away with PM Lee to Germany and Spain for official duties. LHY had earlier accused Ms Ho of obtaining the documents from the property at 38 Oxley Road without the approval of the executors of Lee Kuan Yew's will and handing over the items over to National Heritage Board (NHB) on 6 Feb 2016.

Ms Ho wrote that she had tidied up the basement at 38 Oxley Road after LKY's funeral and had kept Dr Lee Weiling (LWL) informed of what she was doing at the property while not trying to intrude into her grieving.  She noted that she came across items which she thought were significant in LKY's life and informed PM Lee about it. Four items were then identified and loaned to NHB which was organising an exhibition on LKY.

Ms Ho further mentioned that the items were loaned to NHB through the Prime Minister Office (PMO) and had emphasized to NHB that the items had to be returned as it belong to the LKY estate.

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Why did National Heritage Board’s CEO take more than 2 years to discover ‘clerical error’?

On 22 June, Lee Hsien Yang posted a Facebook message revealing that while Lee Kuan Yew was entered into hospital on 5 Feb 2015, fighting for his live in ICU, Ho Ching, the daughter-in-law, instructed someone to take Lee’s belongings from his residence at Oxley Road the next day (6 Feb 2015).

The items were handed over to National Heritage Board’s (NHB) on the same day when they were taken out from LKY’s residence. NHB listed Ho Ching as the PMO’s point of contact.

The media then made further enquiries with NHB and last night, NHB quickly clarified that the actual collection date of the items was 6 April 2015 (after LKY’s death in March) and not “6 Feb 2015”. It added that it was a “clerical error” that had led to the wrong date being recorded in the cited list.

related:
PM Lee is getting his Ministers to insult Lee Kuan Yew
Singapore and the Lees fighting over political system: WSJ
Lee Wei Ling releases email questioning if PAP and Indranee Rajah

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NHB 'clerical error' sparks more allegations in Lee family dispute
NHB 'clerical error' sparks more allegations in Lee family dispute

The National Heritage Board (NHB) said on Thursday (June 22) that a clerical error resulted in wrongly recorded dates which were at the centre of more allegations in the dispute among the Lee siblings over their family home on 38 Oxley Road.

In a Facebook post on Thursday evening on the family dispute over 38 Oxley Road, Mr Lee Hsien Yang alleged that his sister-in-law Ho Ching collected some items belonging to Mr Lee Kuan Yew from his Oxley Road home while he was gravely ill in hospital. He attached a picture in the post of a document detailing the items were allegedly transferred by Madam Ho, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to the NHB.

To NHB’s admission of the error in dates, which showed the items transferred after Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s death, he said: “This is even more troubling. By LKY’s will, the estate’s residual items, such as personal documents, fall under the absolute discretion of the executors Wei Ling and myself. Unapproved removal of these items, even by a beneficiary, constitutes both theft and intermeddling. Ho Ching is not an executor or a beneficiary to our father’s estate. We also still do not understand how she is a proper contact representative for the PMO.”

related:
LHY says Ho Ching 'helped herself' to LKY's papers; records show she was abroad
LHY sparks fresh dispute on items taken for Lee Kuan Yew memorial exhibition

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Lee Hsien Yang 20 hrs

LKY was admitted gravely ill into the ICU on 5 February 2015. The next day, Ho Ching helped herself to a number of LKY's papers. These she handed to the NHB (ostensibly on loan) under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office.

She had no business doing this when LKY was in ICU and it is deeply troubling that someone can represent the PMO despite holding no official position.

EDIT: CNA has kindly pointed out to us that Ho Ching may have been on an official trip on 6 Feb. In that case, since this official NHB document lists Ho Ching as the PMO point of contact, can she please identify the subordinate she instructed to take our father's belongings?

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Lee Hsien Yang says Ho Ching 'helped herself' to Lee Kuan Yew's papers; records show she was abroad

Mr Lee Hsien Yang on Thursday (Jun 22) accused Mdm Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, of accessing some of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's documents on Feb 6, 2015 while the elder Mr Lee was "gravely ill" in hospital, even though records show she was abroad at the time.

Mdm Ho Ching had been accompanying Prime Minister Lee on a week-long official visit to Germany & Spain and was in Madrid on the date Mr Lee Hsien Yang mentioned. She returned to Singapore on Feb 7, 2015.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had alleged in his FaceBook post on Thursday: "LKY was admitted gravely ill into the ICU on Feb 5, 2015. The next day, Ho Ching helped herself to a number of LKY's papers. These she handed to the NHB (ostensibly on loan) under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office," Mr Lee wrote.

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NHB error on collection date for LKY's items 'even more troubling': Hsien Yang

The National Heritage Board’s (NHB) “clerical error” regarding the date on which some of the late Lee Kuan Yew’s items were collected is “even more troubling”, said Lee Hsien Yang in a Facebook post late on Thursday (23 June) night.

In an earlier post, Hsien Yang – who is the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and son of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew – had accused PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, of acting “under the auspices” of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) when she allegedly handed certain personal items that belonged to the late Lee over to the NHB on 6 February 2015. The post included a photo of a list of six items, five of which were shown to have been handed over on the aforementioned date. In each instance, the items’ lender/source was cited as the PMO, with Ho as the point of contact.

In response to media queries on Hsien Yang’s earlier post, the NHB clarified that the actual collection date of the items was 6 April 2015 and that it was a “clerical error” that had led to the wrong date being recorded in the cited list.

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Ho Ching had 'no business' acting on PMO's behalf in collection of LKY's papers: Hsien Yang

The National Heritage Board (NHB) said on Thursday (22 June) that, due to a “clerical error”, the wrong dates were recorded in the list cited by Lee Hsien Yang, which states when the items belonging to Lee Kuan Yew were handed over by the Prime Minister’s Office to the NHB. Instead of 6 February 2015 as Hsien Yang mentioned, the actual date on which items 2 to 5 on the list were handed over to the NHB was 6 April 2015, according to a Channel NewsAsia report. This occurred following the death of Lee Kuan Yew and the items were loaned to NHB for display in the “In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew” exhibition that was subsequently held.

Lee Hsien Yang updated his Facebook post at around 8.30pm with the following: “CNA has kindly pointed out to us that Ho Ching may have been on an official trip on 6 Feb. In that case, since this official NHB document lists Ho Ching as the PMO point of contact, can she please identify the subordinate she instructed to take our father’s belongings?”

Lee Hsien Yang has questioned why Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, had acted “under the auspices” of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in collecting papers belonging to the late Lee Kuan Yew despite not holding an official PMO post.

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Lee Hsien Yang: Ho Ching passed LKY’s papers to NHB under “auspices” of Prime Minister’s Office

It looks like the Lee family feud will not be abating anytime soon.

Shortly after Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam waded into the public spat between the Lee siblings, Lee Hsien Yang has fired another salvo.

Targeting PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching in his latest post, Hsien Yang claimed that Ho had handed a number of LKY’s papers to the National Heritage Board (NHB) under the “auspices” of the Prime Minister’s Office, after LKY was admitted to hospital on Feb. 5, 2015.

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Lee Hsien Yang insists the removal of LKY’s items was ‘theft’

Lee Hsien Yang (LHY)’s Facebook post had attacked his sister-in-law and Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching for acting improperly by handing over founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s papers to National Heritage Board (NHB), only to find out later that she was not in the country.

Nevertheless, his claims prompted NHB to step out to clear the air, by admitting to a “clerical error” in recording the date of receipt of the loan items.

This was what LHY had included in his Facebook post — a picture of a document listing down the items which he said Ho had handed to NHB, which included:
  • Red Ministerial Box and key with key pouch
  • Cambridge University Reporter, 18 June 1949
  • Memo from Director of Posts, Singapore, 11 Feb 1952
  • Letter to Mr Lee Kuan Yew from J. Laycock and Laycock & Ong, 13 April 1953 Envelop
  • Telegram from Lee Kuan Yew, 26 Sept 1958

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Financial Times most read letter: the Lee’s banana republic?

In a letter, the most read Friday 23rd in the Financial Times, one Frankie Leung from Los Angeles, CA, USA said the Lee family’s feud could not happen in Singapore as it sounded like a ‘banana republic’ saga.

“When the story broke that the prime minister’s younger brother and his wife had to flee the country to avoid political persecution, we thought it could only happen in a banana republic and not the Republic of Singapore,” the letter said.


He also wrote that When the Old Man (as Singapore’s late premier Lee Kuan Yew was fondly called) talked so eloquently about Asian values and propounded his interpretation of a brand of Confucianism, I had to bite my lip to stop laughing.

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Lee Hsien Yang sparks fresh dispute on items taken for Lee Kuan Yew memorial exhibition

A dispute between the children of late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew over his old home at Oxley Road has now widened to include items in his estate that were loaned to a memorial exhibition.

On Thursday (Jun 22), the late Mr Lee's youngest son Lee Hsien Yang claimed in a FB post that his brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching had “helped herself to a number of Lee Kuan Yew’s papers” on Feb 6, 2015. This was while the elder Mr Lee lay “gravely ill” in the intensive care unit, after being admitted to hospital the day before, he alleged.

He also claimed that Mdm Ho Ching did so “under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office”, calling it “deeply troubling”.

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Lee Hsien Yang: Ho Ching “helped herself” to several of Lee Kuan Yew’s papers

Lee Hsien Yang on Thursday (Jun 22) accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, of handing papers from their father, when the elder was admitted to the intensive care unit on Feb 5, 2015.

Hsien Yang also charged that Ho Ching had acted under the purview of the Prime Minister Office (PMO) despite not having any official position to do so.

The papers in question were:
  • Red Ministerial Box and key with key pouch
  • A document dating 18 June 1949 from Cambridge University Reporter, a journal of the university’s official business
  • A memo from then Singapore’s Director of Posts, dated 11 February 1952
  • A letter to Kuan Yew dated 13 April 1953 from J. Laycock founder of law firm Laycock & Ong where Kuan Yew had worked as a young lawyer
  • A telegram from Kuan Yew dated 26 September 1958

related: Ho Ching was abroad on the day LHY alleged that she took the papers

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Lee Hsien Yang accuses PM’s wife of helping herself to Lee Kuan Yew’s documents when he was ill

Now that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has assured the public that he’s ready to be interrogated in Parliament about the whole Oxley Road saga, his brother Lee Hsien Yang has turned his iron sights towards another figure: the PM’s wife, Ho Ching.

And what a bold, perilous move he executed in the latest development to a tiresome tiff. Hsien Yang accused his sister-in-law of purloining a number of documents belonging to his late father and founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew — while the man was gravely ill in an Intensive Care Unit, no less. Gasp!

In his own words, Ho Ching “helped herself” to the items (including a letter and a telegram from the ’50s), which she then handed over to the National Heritage Board (NHB) on loan.

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HARD TRUTHS: Ho Ching in Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s own words

So, Ho Ching – Lee Hsien Loong’s wife – is now in the limelight. Ho Ching is Lee Hsien Loong’s wife from his second marriage. His first wife, Wong Ming Yang, with whom he had two children – daughter Xiuqi and son Yipeng – passed away in 1982. Lee Hsien Loong married Ho Ching, an engineer, in 1985.

And here’s what Mr Lee Kuan Yew had to say about her.

Excerpts from the book ‘Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going’, which was published in 2011.

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Singaporeans weary of prime minister's family spat
Singaporean founding father Lee Kuan Yew, center, celebrates his 80th birthday in 2003. His children have become embroiled in a feud following his death in 2015. © Reuters

The siblings have continued to trade blows via Facebook, with no sign of a truce coming anytime soon. Many Singaporeans, unaware of what caused such distrust among the family in the first place, have started showing signs of weariness with the ongoing drama.

"Parliament is not a forum for siblings' disputes," an internet user believed to be Singaporean said in a comment on a local news website. Concerns have grown that the saga will drag on despite more pressing issues, such as the economy and the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia. Han Fook Kwang, editor-at-large of the influential newspaper The Straits Times, said, "The family feud among the Lees is extremely damaging to Singapore."

The row has invited criticism from overseas, too. "The dispute between [the prime minister] and his siblings might challenge the stability of the country and bring pressure for political reform," wrote the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party's English-language newspaper.

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LEE FAMILY SPAT: HO CHING INSTRUCTED SENIOR CIVIL SERVANTS WHEN SHE HAS NO OFFICIAL POSITION IN GOVT

Singapore has no such thing as the wife of the prime minister being a ‘first lady’. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990. During those many years, his wife (our mother) consistently avoided the limelight, remaining his stalwart supporter and advisor in private.

She lived discreetly, and set a high bar for the conduct of a prime minister’s wife. She would never instruct Permanent Secretaries or senior civil servants.

The contrast between her and Ho Ching could not be more stark. While Ho Ching holds no elected or official position in government, her influence is pervasive, and extends well beyond her job purview.

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The politics of power dressing
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Ho Ching, wife of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, stand together during an official arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WHEN it comes to powerful women and what they wear, everyone’s a critic.

Think about the attention Theresa May’s kitten heels and her love for animal prints has received. Never mind the fact that she has more than 30 years of experience in British politics.

Most recently, netizens aspiring to join the fashion police took pot-shots at Ms Ho Ching’s choice of clothes during her visit to the United States with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this week.

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Ho Ching's refreshingly chill approach to social media
© Coconuts Media Photo: Ho Ching Facebook page

Unlike her husband — who holds the most powerful position in the country — the Prime Minister's wife Ho Ching has a rather refreshingly lax approach to her social media postings.

If one were to look at her personal (and verified) Facebook page,  it would seem that she loves to spam links to various videos, articles and memes without a care for public relations at all — an amazing feat considering that every single aspect of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's own social media presence is clearly curated. The same goes for the rest of the ministers and various politicians under him — they can (most times) be so inoffensive and sterile to the point of being bland.

That's why Ho Ching's own posts are so relatively interesting. Politically incorrect jokes even make it to her feed — like this one about Pornhub (sadly blocked in Singapore, mind you). Bless her gleeful, carefree heart.

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"I will GET UP!"


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