By now, the Oxley Road saga between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee), and his siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, has developed into a game of thrones.
No one can predict what happens next and all heads are on the chopping board.
One certainty is that when Parliament sits on 3 July 2017, PM Lee will make a Ministerial Statement to refute the charges.
All MPs (including PAP MPs) can raise questions in a full, public airing in Parliament, in the hope that the air can be cleared up and once for all.
Singapore (and the spectators of the world) has had a pretty exciting week of revelations after revelations in a social media tit-for-tat that allowed ordinary Singaporeans a peek into the private emails and correspondences of the famiLee.
However to some, having the nation dragged through the indignity of public mud-slinging is a phase best settled quickly before we lose face to the world even further.
This saga revealed to us, and the world, the uniquely Singaporeaness of the Oxley Road saga.
1. Think about why it’s called the Oxley Road saga, not the $X million saga
The famiLee’s points of contention revolve more around the principles of:
– what to do with 38 Oxley Road, and who decides
– how the last will was made and is it legit?
– did PM Lee pull strings to get the deed of gift etc?
– $X million is owed to who and who
– where did the missing $X million go to?
– whose wife suddenly had a lot more bling?
Whereas other leaders are accused for missing funds and lined pockets, PM Lee is accused of having wrong principles, which is an even graver charge in Singapore.
2. We are obsessed with black and white, archive everything until siao
In Singapore, proof is *almost* everything.
That’s why much of the argument centres around who was cc, not cc in the email thread(s), who really drafted the final will etc.
Never has the importance of keeping your email threads to cover your backside been highlighted in such a high-profile way.
3. Nah, I let you question me, don’t say I neh give chance hor
While leaders of some countries just choose to shoot, poison, kill, accuse of sodomy, jail, exile, blackmail or bribe with cash or power whoever threatens their rule, Singapore does just the opposite:
– subject the accused leader to a Parliament grilling at the immediate next Parliament session (don’t waste time mah)
– lift the leader’s party whip (so any PAP MP can lobby questions like any other opposition MP)
– broadcast live on free public channels (so no Singaporean is left behind, we like free stuff right?)
It is hard to say who is wrong, or right, or maybe both sides are both right and wrong, depending on how you argue it out.
But there is a lot of anger, hurt, disappointment and unmet expectations that rational discourse alone sadly will not solve, just like any Singapore family feud.
Just watch the tense quarrels and standoffs on Channel 8’s drama 118.
4. The art of saying sorry
Instead of being defensive and hiding his head in a hole, PM Lee started his statement by saying:
“Good evening. Over the last week, Singaporeans have been disturbed and confused by news of the private dispute between my siblings and me.
I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the Government.
As your Prime Minister, I apologise to you for this.”
Wah, this is PR 101 that everyone can learn from.
Just say sorry first, even if it’s for something else not directly related to the case, but acknowledges other people’s feelings to win them over.
5. Singaporeans are way too practical
We are a busy lot.
TL:DRs do well because… who has time to read the incessant updates about the latest comeback?
Even when the first letter broke a week ago, I heard comments like:
Too many PDF pages to read
Can someone summarise?
Some Singaporeans also took offence that the letter was timed during PM’s holiday.
In other countries, you have citizens all too ready to get up in arms using yellow umbrellas, yellow t-shirts, yellow rubber ducks etc.
In contrast, Singapore’s yellow revolution over the last week was…
I am getting pretty tired of the back-and-forth, like having an irritating email thread bouncing back and forth between multiple parties with the whole world cc inside.
Just settle it among yourselves and update us on the result can?
Also published on Medium.