A Father’s Day Reflection on Family, Citizens and Office Holders

When the first Facebook posting of the Lee family’s disputes appeared, my interest was piqued. Then came the ripostes from the Prime Minister and I became confused. It’s a veritable reality TV show now and I’m alarmed.

As with all developments in life, including our national life, this is an opportunity to learn.  It is in that spirit that I offer this reflection.

First: Is the quarrel over the disposition of 38 Oxley a national or a family matter?

My instinct is that it’s both.

All of us are children and citizens, so too the Lee siblings and their children. Some of us are fathers and citizens. So too Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Only Mr. Lee Kuan Yew lays claim to the title Father of Singapore. His family are all citizens. One of them is the Prime Minister.  This is not just a private family arguments.

As citizens, we are asked to share these 5 Values about the priorities between nation, family and individuals. First nation comes before community and society above self; second, the family is the basic unity of society; third, we believe in community support and respect for the individual; fourth, we believe in consensus and not conflict; fifth, we uphold racial and religious harmony.

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had individual wishes for his house. However the first value of our country suggests that these wishes can be over-ridden for national interest.

In the same way that individual citizens’ homes and their grave-yards can be acquired for national development, so too can the Father of the country’s home. If national interest dictates.

The issue really is how and who makes this determination in the national interest. Should it be a Cabinet committee” Should the question be put to referendum?  Should it be an issue presented at the next elections?

I do not offer any suggestions. However, the question of how this issue should be determined should definitely be transparent and should take public opinion into account.

Second: How do we move forward?

There have been many calls for the Lees air to take their issues back behind closed doors, as all good families do.

However, serious allegations have been made about elected officials and governmental process. It is too late to sweep things out of sight.

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew believed that allegations against the system had to be dealt with openly in the courts. Many who have opened their mouths to disagree with the government’s policies have been taken to the courts to prove their case. The children of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew cannot somehow be exempt. As individuals they are free to say what they want to say, but only with due respect given to our shared values of consensus, not conflict. Allegations that go to the heart of the integrity of our system of government and to the professional integrity of certain private persons must be confronted.  And they must be confronted in a transparent way, and with due process, not through the Facebook.

On that note – May everyone have a Happy Father’s Day.

A last thought – Who cares if 38 Oxley is demolished or preserved, if the country itself is made the subject of tittering gossip or if it falls apart?




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