LHL has thrown the gauntlet down in parliament on July 3. He meant it in a video on Facebook yesterday. He has invited all relevant parties including the opposition to question him on the embarrassing fallout with his siblings.
He has also apologised to Singaporeans yesterday.
But before you run out in a skip and beat, he was apologising for the protracted airing of the dispute between his siblings, and not apologising for any personal wrongdoings or misjudgement in the public spat.
In fact, he said boldly that he will deliver a ministerial statement to refute the "baseless allegations" when Parliament sits on July 3.
In other words, there's going to be a rumble in the democratic jungle when politicians go full throttle in this coming July's huddle.
Mm...I wonder whether LHY and LWL will be invited to the parliamentary showdown to either offer their side of the story or question him themselves since they are deemed the main antagonists in this whole public dispute?
In any event, if I were ever invited to Parliament on July 3, these will be the questions I would like to ask my PM Lee.
On paragraph 7 of LKY’s Last Will:-
1) Is it valid and properly executed?
2) If so, what is holding PM Lee back from carrying out his late father's wish after all conditions are satisfied for its demolition?
3) If not, because he had "grave concerns" about the preparation of the 7th and Last Will, why did he not raise it up formally within reasonable time after it was read out to him three weeks after his father passed away, that is, in April 2015?
4) And if his reason was because he wanted to "avoid a public fight which would tarnish the name and reputation of Mr Lee and the family", is he hoping then to engage in a "private fight" with his siblings by raising the issue of its validity in a Statutory Declaration ("SD"), which was subsequently submitted to a ministerial committee, set up sometime last July?
On the ministerial committee:-
5) Why was it being convened in the first place?
6) Did PM Lee play any part in the ministerial committee being convened (or set up), that is, did he have a hand in starting it, appointing the members in the committee and setting the agenda/purpose for its appointment and perpetuation?
7) Is the ministerial committee set up for the purpose of considering the various options to deal with the 38 Oxley Road house with the aim of gazetting it under the Preservation of Monument Act, even if it is against the testamentary intent of LKY, or for the other purpose of investigating whether the Last Will (on the demolition) was validly and properly executed, or both?
8) If it was for the purpose of investigating the validity of the Last Will, isn't the Court of Law a better, more appropriate and competent forum to adjudicate on such matters?
9) And if PM Lee had said that he did not want to challenge the Last Will because he wanted to avoid a public fight that would tarnish the reputation of his father and his legacy, is he then trying by other means to challenge it by submitting his SD to the ministerial committee voicing his "grave concerns" and hoping to keep it out of the public and the judicial eye?
10) Is it wise, appropriate or proper for the ministerial committee to be made up of his subordinates (presumably attempting to wear different hats) and "sitting, arbitrating an issue related to their boss", when the issue in contention is largely personal, that is, about whether to go against LKY's wish in the overriding interest of the State or to comply with it, and more relevantly, about whether the Last Will is valid or not, wherein the dispute is primarily between their boss and their boss' siblings?
On PM Lee's parliamentary and public statement:-
11) While it is not denied that PM Lee told parliament, posted in Facebook and made a public statement with his siblings that he personally believed his father was unwavering in desiring that 38 Oxley Road be demolished after his death, and the same should be duly honoured, why did he then act and protest in such a manner in his SD (that is, to question the Last Will on demolition) and submit the same to the ministerial committee, which unavoidably gives the impression that he hopes the committee would eventually decide to deal with the Oxley house by all means conceivable except by his father's wish to demolish it?
(Is it because he is subjecting his personal interest to the State interest? If so, why even bother to raise such sensitive issues concerning the Will, which he knows would be seen as firing the first salvo in alleging impropriety on his younger brother's part and deepen the feud? sorry, that's a bonus, rider question).
And last but not least...
12) Will there be a satisfactory, fair and permanent closure to this "Oxleymoronic" issue - where State interest is being muddled up with personal interest - so that Singaporeans can finally get on with their life and go back to watching American, Korean and Hong Kong soap operas with relish and great relief?
Lesson? Just one, and it is enough...trust me.
Let me quote how PM Lee ended his speech on Facebook.
"As public servants, my Ministers and I will always protect the integrity of our institutions, and uphold the strict standards separating private affairs from our public duties. We are determined to repair the damage that has been done to Singapore. We will continue to lead our nation and serve you to the best of our ability.”
I have no doubt that he meant every word in that conclusion, especially the part about repairing the damage.
But I sincerely doubt July 3 will be the end of it.
In fact, from now to July 3, we can expect a flurry of rebuttals (cloth pegs, extended clothing line, soiled linens and all) to deepen the wedge since LHY had already said he would respond later after carefully considering PM Lee's Facebook video.
Our PM Lee further added that he hopes that "this full, public sharing in Parliament will dispel any doubts that have been planted and strengthen confidence in our institutions and our systems of government."
Well, again, I personally doubt it about dispelling the doubt part.
For how can you resolve an issue that has its root in a rivalry that goes beyond procedural and administrative matters into the alleged source of siblings' betrayal, hatred and dishonour in an openly guarded, time-restricted and highly structured administrative setting?
Furthermore, we can expect Parliament to be conducted with decorum, in mechanically formal manner, and like the American Presidential debates, but without the opposing candidate present, I foresee that not everything will be thrashed out, and therefore only one side would come out of it like a knight in shining parliamentary armour. At its worst, it may just be interpreted as a whitewashing session.
Mind you, this ain't no British or some Taiwan's no-hold-bar parliamentary fisticuffs right?
In other words, parliament is a perfect place to debate and discuss about policies, proposals and plans relating to governmental matters, but it is not (in my view) equipped (or even prepared for) such matters of the heart where the issues are highly emotional and deeply dividing, and the contesting "egos" are collectively half the size of two continents.
Alas, too much is at stake on either side for anyone to ever wish for a resolution in one or two parliamentary sitting? Pardon me, I am not that naive.
At best, we will hear clearer, louder and stronger PM Lee's side of the story and his side only, and that only widens the chasm between him and his siblings (who are obviously not invited and may even prefer to fire their turret rounds on social media instead, where they would at least be assured of a more receptive and sympathetic audience).
So, in the end, July 3 will go some ways to clear the air, but it is of limited effectiveness if the siblings are not invited to a close-door session before a trusted and respected mediator to thrash out their differences without prejudice or reservation.
Honestly, I as a citizen of Singapore do not think it is necessary at this most urgent time to hear PM Lee apologise to the world (for the public feud) and rehash his side of the story, which will be rather predictable accompanied by strong nationalistic and patriotic sentiments to boot.
Instead, to be truly effective and to advance towards some real hope of resolution, I'd rather he, as the oldest brother and the first son his late father loved and trusted with his life, and with the future of Singapore, take the first initiative to approach his siblings with a heart of understanding, a soul for brotherly humility and a spirit of amicable settlement, and then talk it out with them away from the public circus; and if need be, to apologise to them and ask for their hand of reconciliation and healing to put this whole only-human ruckus behind them once and for all.
That to me is the true sign of a leader, and more importantly, the hallmark of a good son and a trusted older brother who will bear his siblings' load because they ain't heavy.
...and after that, after the private caucus with his siblings, no matter how long it takes, PM Lee then appears in Parliament holding the hands of his siblings and declares, "It's over."
Not a single word needs to be added after that, because he would have spoken volume by that one simple, humbling act in and of Parliament, and the family and nation will then be on the road together to certain lasting healing.