SINGAPORE: Mdm Ho Ching on Friday (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 Facebook 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 and 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.
She went on to explain that it was "in the middle of those two first weeks of April", when she was tidying up the house after Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death that she came across "small interesting items which (she) thought were significant in papa’s life".
She added that she kept both Mr Lee and his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling posted on what she had done, including the loan of the items to NHB.
On Friday evening, Prime Minister Lee posted a note on Facebook noting that questions had been raised about his wife's role in the loan of some of the items to NHB. "The loan was openly done, and for a good cause – an exhibition remembering my father soon after he died," he wrote.
Mdm Ho's post is reproduced below:
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.
It was in the middle of those two first weeks of April, tidying up the house after papa’s death, that I came across small interesting items which I thought were significant in papa’s life. I explained to Loong about a puzzling telegram about a Battleship arrival. Loong immediately knew its significance, and identified 4 items that he thought it would be useful to lend to NHB which was organizing an exhibition on papa’s life. These included the Battleship telegram and the John Laycock letter, which would be related to what papa did during the Postmen’s strike. I arranged to do so through the PMO, emphasizing to NHB that these items belonged to the estate and must be returned.
During that period, I had also done things like organising papa's ties, and you confirmed that you were agreeable for NHB to come and pick what they wanted - they mostly wanted the relevant ties to match what papa wore during various historical events.
After the will was read on 12 April, I again kept both you and Ling posted on all that I had done including the 4 items loaned to NHB. In fact, I was in the basement working with the maids, when I was asked to join you and Fern, as well as Loong and Ling, for the reading of the will.
You may wish to check your email records to refresh your memory on the various updates that I had given you during those 2 weeks.
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.