Sunday, January 4, 2009

Frugal your Lao Bu CCB I

Frugal living at home amid lush greenery
'Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.'
- Mrs Lee Kuan Yew

In Jan 2009, Lee Wei Ling, daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, lectured Singaporeans in the latest of her long series of letters to the Straits Times:
...reconsider our priorities in life.

...I still find it hard to believe that there are people carrying handbags that cost more than thrice the monthly income of a bus driver, and many more times that of the foreign worker labouring in the hot sun risking his life to construct luxury condominiums he will never have a chance to live in. I view the crass materialism around me, I am reminded of what my mother once told me: 'Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.'

My family is not poor, but we have been brought up to be frugal.

...if one is blinded by materialism, there would be no end to wanting and hankering. After the Ferrari, what next? An Aston Martin? After the Hermes Birkin handbag, what can one upgrade to?

Neither an Aston Martin nor an Hermes Birkin can make us truly happy or contented. They are like dust, a fog obscuring the true meaning of life, and can be blown away in the twinkling of an eye.

In 1995, the same Lee Wei Ling bought a posh condominium in Orchard Road called Scott 28, at a jaw-dropping 20%-discounted price, in an exclusive private sale only open to "certain" selected individuals i.e. before general sale is opened to the public.

Her uncle Lee Suan Yew, brother of Lee Kuan Yew, was a director of the developer, Hotel Property Ltd (HPL), a public listed company.

She bought unit 18-05 on 17/10/1995 at the deeply-discounted price of $2,761,300 and sold it barely 6 months later on 27/3/96.

I hope in her next letter to the Straits Times, she can enlighten Singaporeans:
  • How much did she make from this sale, while living a frugal life in her parent's home?

  • Did she find it hard to believe that she had bought a free-hold prime land property that she won't be living in, which cost more than a million times "the monthly income of the foreign worker who laboured in the hot sun risking his life to construct [her] luxury condominiums [which] he will never have a chance to live in"?

  • Was she "blinded by materialism? After [Scott 28], what next? [Nassim Jade condominium?] After [Nassim Jade], what can [she] upgrade to? [Istana?]"

  • Is the money she made from this private purchase "like dust, a fog obscuring the true meaning of life, and can be blown away in the twinkling of an eye"?

Her brother, Lee Hsien Yang, did not participate in that property speculation. He also did not write high-sounding moral letters to the Straits Times to teach Singaporeans how to live frugally. Like his sister, he was "been brought up to be frugal", but he probably believed that actions speak louder than words. So, he simply let his quiet actions demonstrate to all Singaporeans the goodness of "suffering and deprivation" that his mother had so painstakingly taught them:

His quiet suffering in his frugal house:

His silent deprivation in his frugal dining room:

His tiny frugal kitchen inspired by his mother's words:

Oh, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, together with her husband, also bought a unit (Unit 20-5, directly 2 floors above her daughter's unit) at, again, a 20% discounted price of $2,791,500.

And so did her niece, Kwa Kim Li!

And so did a lawyer, Andrew Ang, working in her law firm!

Is this her way of teaching her entire family that "suffering and deprivation is good for the soul."

Lee Hsien Loong also bought a 12-20% discounted property from the company. Together with his father, he was summoned to the office of then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (in Goh's word (slightly paraphrased) "I told them to come to my office"), and told by then Finance Minister Richard Hu to return the equivalence of the discount that they had received.

In Parliament:
  • Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said he did no wrong, but he and his son would return the discount nevertheless.
  • He also conveyed to Singaporeans that his angry wife had told him that Singaporeans were ungrateful to him.

Ong Beng Seng, the developer, was told by Lee that he may be charged for attempting to bribe Lee! Ong, a businessman, must have been very happy to sell 10+ properties at 20% discount costing him millions of dollars to Lee's extended family! He must have done so without any influence/order from his director Lee Suan Yew.

Anyhow, Lee Suan Yew left the Board of Directors of the developer company quietly shortly thereafter.

Koh Seng Beng - the MAS manager who reported to Richard Hu that the public was getting discontented with the huge discount - was transferred out of MAS soon.

Richard Hu resigned and left politics.

Goh Chok Tong is no longer the Prime Minister.

Lai Kew Chai, high court judge and good friend of Lee Kuan Yew, also brought a 20% discounted property. He sentenced Tang Liang Hong - the man who exposed that the Hotel Property purchases were not limited to just Lee and his son, but involved the extended family on both sides- to bankruptcy. He died soon thereafter in his 60s.

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew is now near brain-dead and has been so for the past 6 months.

The rest of the extended family are still alive. Some, even take it to be their responsibility to write regularly to the newspaper to eschew the virtue of frugality!

You can view the list of their deeply-discounted purchases here (click on "HPL Purchasers Schedules").

Note: I am not the only one who thinks lowly of the Lee family's hypocritical attempt to portray an fake image of "frugality" when they were actually very extravagant in their lifestyle. Someone exposed the false portrayal by Li Xiuqi of her grandma Kwa Geok Choo too. I entitled it: Frugal your Lao Bu CCB II


massimo said...

lol. funiest post of teh yearz.

Anonymous said...

Haha good post.

And Lee Wei Ling is just dumb. She should just stick to bashing Failip Yeo.

xNSman said...

How can you!!!! The Straits Times is always truthfully and checks and double check their sources. Or do they? They have taken ASS-Kissing to new heights and years later, we can study from them how to be a great Ass-Kisser.

Wei-Yee Chan said...

The question that begs to be asked is, what makes you think they haven't already lost their souls?

bathmate said...

As always an excellent posting.The
way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.