No 'national crisis' over 38 Oxley Road dispute: Ambassador to US rebuts NYT story

No 'national crisis' over 38 Oxley Road dispute: Ambassador to US rebuts NYT story

38 oxley road - 3
38 Oxley Road. (Photo: Howard Law)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ambassador to the United States, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri on Saturday (Jul 8) rebutted an article by The New York Times that described the dispute over the late Lee Kuan Yew's 38 Oxley Road home as a "national crisis".

The article, titled "Dispute over Singapore founder's house becomes a national crisis", was published by The New York Times on Jul 4.

The Oxley Road dispute spilled into the public sphere when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, accused him of abusing his power in his handling of their late father's home.

The NYT article said: "These charges have transformed what on the surface is an ugly estate battle into a national crisis that has raised questions about how this island nation is governed, the basis of the governing party’s uninterrupted 58-year rule and how the country’s leaders are chosen."

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, Mr Mirpuri said that the article promoted the "absurd notion" that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government to the fate of the house.

An edited version of the ambassador's letter was published by The New York Times. On Tuesday night, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a full copy of his letter to the media.

It contained a line omitted by The New York Times, which read: "I am surprised that NYT did not seek any comments from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong or the Singapore government before writing the piece."

Mr Mirpuri's letter is reproduced in full below: 

8 July 2017

Mr James Bennet
Editor
The New York Times

Dear Mr Bennet,

Your article “Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis” (4 July) promotes the absurd notion that Singaporeans link the legitimacy of their government with the fate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s house. I am surprised that NYT did not seek any comments from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong or the Singapore government before writing the piece.

In response to accusations by his siblings of abuse of power over the house, Prime Minister Lee made a full statement in Parliament. He explained how he had recused himself from all government decisions concerning the house, and also sold the house to his brother, so that he no longer has any interest or influence over the house.

No Member of Parliament made any allegations of impropriety or wrongdoing against the PM during the debate, nor has anyone else produced specific evidence to back the siblings’ vague allegations. There is no national crisis in Singapore.

Yours sincerely,

ASHOK KUMAR MIRPURI

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