The Myth of the Lee Family’s Public Service

Last week I published a blog post, How Many More Years Will Go by Before We Learn How Much the Lees Have Paid Themselves While in Public Office?. I said there that I have been questioning since at least 2010 Ho Ching’s suitability to lead Temasek and asking for her remuneration to be disclosed.

Now Haseenah Koyakutty, who previously was head of Channel News Asia’s Indonesia bureau, has tweeted about how as a state media employee she asked Lee Hsien Loong way back in 2004 just (before he became PM after the ten-year interregnum of Goh Chok Tong’s premiership) about the conflict of interest of appointing his wife to be head of Temasek. She says he was extremely displeased and later a civil servant told her he went ballistic.

In my article “Should PM Lee Be Forced to Reimburse the Taxpayer for His Wife’s Earnings at Temasek?” I said:

After her (Ho Ching’s) prudent decision to get married to Lee Hsien Loong in 1985 her career path definitely assumed a more vertical trajectory, like her husband’s. She joined Singapore Technologies as Director of Engineering before becoming President and CEO of Singapore Technologies in 1997. She joined Temasek as Executive Director in 2002 and then, suspiciously, 11 days before her husband became PM on 12 August 2004, she was appointed as CEO of Temasek.

The sense of entitlement to accumulate wealth while in public office is not something new and in this, as in everything else, Lee Hsien Loong is only imitating his dad. Lee Kuan Yew liked to cultivate the humbug that he was somehow sacrificing himself for Singapore’s benefit. One of his more sickeningly narcissistic quotes is shown below:

Of course LKY sacrificed nothing. Before the 1976 GE, he famously derided the Opposition as men who, as regards their own personal fortunes, had failed to accumulate anything. My dad’s rejoinder was acerbic and cut through the cant: “Mr LKY has arranged his affairs brilliantly. His wife is Senior Partner of Lee and Lee, which has a monopoly on conveyancing work for the HDB. His brother is head of Tat Lee Bank, which was given a licence by MAS when many other banks were refused.” My father later got sued by LKY and LKY’s relative on the High Court bench ordered him to pay $130,000 in damages plus costs. My father was forced to sell our family home.

LHL continues in this fine tradition of hypocrisy that he is somehow selflessly serving Singapore while making much less than he would make in the private sector. The Lees often point to the examples of Western politicians who have accumulated fortunes after they left office and justify paying themselves better than any other politician in the developed world by saying they are denied those opportunities as they cannot retire lest Singapore collapse. However those Western politicians, like Barrack Obama, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, slightly distasteful though it is, have at least made their money after relinquishing their hold on the levers of power. The Obamas also have huge star power which our PM and his wife lack.

As long as Ho Ching’s compensation remains a state secret and the family’s assets are shrouded in secrecy, we can justifiably deride PM Lee’s symbolic 30% salary cut after GE2011 as a meaningless charade meant to pull the wool over the eyes of Singaporeans. We should rightly be concerned that his reluctance to leave office may be to secure his wife’s position for many more years at the head of Temasek and to get an agreement that any successor will not probe too deeply into the accounts both of Temasek and GIC.

If I were in Parliament I would now also be asking about the Lees’ use of Temasek’s Gulfstream. Has this been approved by Parliament and has this been purely for state business or have there been personal trips as well? If so, have the Lees reimbursed Temasek or is Ho Ching entitled to use of the company jet for personal business under her employment contract?

Finally Singaporeans are getting wise to the fact that Lee Hsien Loong’s earnings as PM may only be the tip of the iceberg. Until the Government and the Lees come clean on their total earnings and assets we should rightly be sceptical of any claims that they are putting country before self. Public service is a myth for naive Singaporeans along with the $15 ITE handbag.

 

Kenneth Jeyaretnam

* The author blogs at https://kenjeyaretnam.com/.

 

 

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16 Responses to “The Myth of the Lee Family’s Public Service”

  • vincent tan:

    tan cheng bok accurately commented:….
    “The prime minister wife is a very important
    position, there should not any sign of conflict.
    Should be someone who is very neutral but
    the pm put her in charge of a goverment
    investment institution like Temasek.
    Very Very Dangerous! I see it but they don’t”
    Hope to hear ah bok stress his point durin
    GE2019 merdeka !!

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  • I like POGBA, hate POFMA:

    “Public service is a myth for naive Singaporeans along with the $15 ITE handbag”….. or (purposely showing) socks with holes at Botanic Gardens family picnic. Or (with cameras ready) queuing 30 mins to buy fried chicken wings.

    If there’s an Oscar Award for Wayang Family, this LEEs will definitely win it hands down for generations as long as the award exists.

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  • TruBlu:

    Seriously, LKY N HIS FAMILEE got much more than good men like goh keng swee, toh chin chye n hon sui sen.

    Whats there to comPRAIN?
    WHATS THEIR REAL NETWORTH?

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Right on TARGET Ken…If only I can put it the way you can…sadly I am unable owing to my limited education…and making a FOOL of myself is the last thing on my mind at my age pushing 80…

    The sad thing about Singaporeans or the majority Sheeple they Cannot see beyond their NOSES…

    a BullShit artiste and a Master of Deceit and Illusion like the man who ConYou is NOT easy to CATCH unlike catching a Tartar!!!

    “If he HAD not been my son he would be PM at 35″…that was the quote of the man who CONyou referring to his Idiotic and LEEgally corrupted son

    KUDOS to you Ken… and I hope & pray that Singapore will see the sacrifices your dad and the many Nationalists and Patriots Destroyed by a Bastard who had NOTHING but self Interest…

    where else can you have a Pisai (island the size of a NOSE SHIT) built into a Modern Port by the British before leaving and a Bastard Usurping Power to Take Control of a Hard Working bunch of people who saw the agony of The Japanese Occupation and FULLY exploited by the man who CON a Nation and turned it into a Dynasty and StateINC no longer a Country and Nation… as declared by another CON name The SHAM!!!

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  • free Sillies:

    whole population had been fooled for the past 5 decades.
    lied & betrayed & bullied into submission till become ‘gong gong’..
    dunno how to fight back..thats what sgs are!
    to break out from their hold on us and for us to breathe free air again, just VTO. no other way.

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  • KongKong:

    It is a legalized “market place” where the influential rich are held in the highest regard, by the people, and hence beholden and indebted to. Are you also not from the educated elite class(enjoying high rewards and lifestyle – let’s not be hypocritical?)?

    LKY established an old but condemned order in a geographical advantages tiny location where he had what it takes to be the king of philosophers(in his own territory).

    Will his ways bring peace on earth, or just to a few “happy congregation” of a Rojak people from all over the world with huge appetites for “Swiss standard of living” which never was and will be?

    I don’t want the “Swiss standard” sell, do you?

    But then, you are sheep led by….the kong Hee type.

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  • Best job in the world:

    A multi millionaire queuing up like ordinary people to buy chicken wings.

    Hahaha….. what’s more can we say?

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  • Guide for the Perplexed:

    Beautified for people is the love of their desires – of women and sons, heaps of gold and silver, fine branded horses (automobiles), cattle and well-tilled land. This is the allure of worldly life, but truly in God is the best accomplishment.

    Say: “Shall I inform you of something better than all these? For those who fear the Lord God, they will be in His presence in the gardens of Paradise through which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally, in the company of purified spouses and the good pleasure of God the All-Seeing Lord.

    Those who say: “Our Lord! We do indeed believe in Thee, so forgive us our sins and transgressions and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire!”

    Those are the patient ones, those who are true (in faith, words, and deeds), law-abiding and sincere in worship. Those who spend (in righteousness) and who pray for God’s pardon in the solitary hours of night.

    God bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but He; and the angels, and the sagacious (also witness thus); The Lord doth maintain His creation in Justice – none ought to be worshipped but the Almighty, the Most Wise.

    (Quran 3:14 – 18)

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  • UG:

    LKY WILL also dunno, you want myth?

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  • HarderTruths:

    Does he get paid in Hell Money now?

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  • MarBowling:

    The LEE FAMILEE AND GANG for next 18 generations WILL REAP WHAT LEE KAYU HAD SOWED! PERIOD!

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  • A successful Singapore?:

    The old folks have their CPF shortchanged.

    If the government had diligently invested CPF for the interest of CPF members, most old folks would be rich.

    Young folks, your future is the same.

    All wake up!

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  • Beast Arisen:

    Corporate Daemons in the Desecration of the Republic of Virtue:

    Big bucks for Big bluffs
    Sanctioning a Virtual Serfdom

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  • Singaporean Kong Come:

    Grab credit again. this mother fxxxker think only he spend all his life for SG. So other pld guard did not spenf all their life for SG. Withour support this old fart (Ashman) think he can build this county alone.Just an empty vessel make the most noise.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    MarBowling:
    The LEE FAMILEE AND GANG for next 18 generations WILL REAP WHAT LEE KAYU HAD SOWED! PERIOD!

    Not too sure about that leh!!!… maybe those who Repent and Repay the rest will face Retribution & Karma!!!

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  • Old Man Longan Banana:

    Is he valueing his life more than the value of Singapore?

    A janitor when he dies also can say, what has he given up? His life.

    I have given up my freedom living here .

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