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更新时间:2017-7-5 11:01:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis

Two years after his death, no memorials, statues or streets in Singapore are named after Lee Kuan Yew, who established this city-state as a modern nation and built it into a prosperous showcase for his view that limited political freedoms best suit Asian values.


Now a bitter and public family dispute over the fate of his modest house has shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future.


Two of Mr. Lee’s three children have accused their elder brother, the prime minister, of abusing his power to preserve the house against their father’s wishes. The motive, they said, was to shore up his own political legitimacy and ultimately to establish a dynasty for which he was grooming his son.


These charges have transformed what on the surface is an ugly estate battle into a national crisis that has raised questions about how this island nation is governed, the basis of the governing party’s uninterrupted 58-year rule and how the country’s leaders are chosen.


And in a place where criticizing the government can land a blogger in jail, the public airing of these grievances from within the ranks of the revered founding family is nothing short of extraordinary.


“These are allegations of abuse of power, subversion of due process, cronyism and nepotism,” Kirsten Han, an activist and journalist, wrote in a popular blog. “If true, they upend Singapore’s carefully cultivated, squeaky-clean, corruption-free image.

“这些是关于滥用权力、不按程序办事、任人唯亲和裙带关系的指控,”活动人士及新闻工作者韩俐颖(Kirsten Han)在一个很有人气的博客上写到。“如果是真的,它们肯定会颠覆新加坡精心塑造的纯洁无暇、不存在腐败的形象。

“And, more important for the people of Singapore,” she continued, “they reveal that the ‘A Team,’ who have for decades presented themselves as the best option for the country, are actually using the power the electorate has bestowed upon them for their own personal goals.”


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 65, has called the accusations “baseless” and in a high-stakes performance appeared before a special session of Parliament on Monday to rebut the charges.

现年65岁的李显龙(Lee Hsien Loong)总理称这些指控“毫无根据”,并于周一在国会的一场特别会议上加以驳斥,上演了一出利害攸关的大戏。

“When the dust has settled on this unhappy episode, people must know that the government operates transparently, impartially and properly,” he said. “That in Singapore, even Mr. Lee’s house and Mr. Lee’s wishes are subject to the rule of law.”


As much as the prime minister would like to put the whole affair behind him, the crisis shows no signs of abating.


The prime minister’s younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority and a former chief executive of Singtel, a global telecom company, has said he would leave the country indefinitely because he feared government retribution.

身为新加坡民航局(Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore)董事会主席、曾任国际电信公司新电信(Singtel)首席执行官的李显龙之弟李显杨(Lee Hsien Yang)说,他将无限期离开这个国家,因为害怕遭到政府的报复。

On Saturday, he posted a statement on Facebook accusing his brother of carrying out “a vast and coordinated effort” against him and his sister, Lee Wei Ling, a prominent neurologist.

上周六,他在Facebook上发表了一份声明,指责长兄“大动干戈地协调各方力量”对付他和他姐姐、知名神经科医生李玮玲(Lee Wei Ling)。

Singapore’s remarkable rise from a sleepy, British-colonial backwater to a gleaming financial capital, whose banks now challenge Switzerland’s as a global destination for secret money, was due in no small part to the country’s unquestioned adherence to Lee Kuan Yew’s vision. Under his mix of one-party rule, draconian enforcement of public order and business-friendly policies, the country thrived economically and became a model for governments like China’s.


Lee Kuan Yew’s People’s Action Party has never lost its hold on power since 1959, and today it controls 83 of 89 elected seats in Parliament.

自1959年以来,李光耀的人民行动党(People's Action Party)从未丧失执政党地位,目前国会的89个民选席位当中有83个为其所控制。

One of his last wishes was that the house where he had lived for nearly 70 years be demolished after his death. He did not want it to become a museum, he said, where visitors would “trudge through” and turn the place into “a shambles.”


The house itself, a musty five-bedroom affair at 38 Oxley Road, is not grand. More than 100 years old, it lacks a foundation, and dampness creeps up the walls. It suffers from decades of deferred maintenance. Walls are stained, and some have cracks. Furnishings have not been updated in years.


A pair of urns containing the ashes of Mr. Lee and his wife sit side by side on a small shelf in the main room.


Despite the wealth created under Mr. Lee’s leadership, who was prime minister from 1959 until 1990, the house is emblematic of his modest lifestyle and a symbol of clean government.


But the home’s historical significance is undeniable. A basement room, set up with a long table and chairs, was the meeting place in the 1950s for the independence leaders who eventually rose to power, the spot where the People’s Action Party was born.


But Mr. Lee left clear instructions in his will that the house should be torn down despite its historical value. The unsentimental leader doubted anyone would care, even his children.


“They have old photos to remind them of the past,” he scoffed in a 2011 interview.


He stipulated that his daughter, who took care of him in his last years, could live there as long as she wished. She still does. She is only 62, so the final disposition of the property might not come for decades.


But the issue burst into public view in mid-June when the two younger siblings issued a blistering statement titled “What Has Happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s Values?” They questioned their brother’s “character, conduct, motives and leadership.”


They accused him of creating a secret government committee to circumvent their father’s will for his own political benefit and of misusing his position “to drive his personal agenda.”


Singaporeans are divided. Some see the value in preserving a piece of Singapore’s history while others think that Lew Kuan Yew’s final wish should be honored. And some believe the whole affair should have been kept private.


“This is a personal family issue, and it shouldn’t be brought to the national level because it might create a bad impression around the world,” said Tan Chuan Jin, 19, an information technology student.

“这是家事,不应该上升到国家层面,因为可能给世界各地的人留下不好的印象,”现年19岁的信息科技专业学生谭传金(音,Tan Chuan Jin)说。

But just as it was difficult to separate Mr. Lee from the country he built, it is impossible to erase the politics from the house. Preserving it would provide a physical reminder not only of Mr. Lee, analysts said, but also of the current prime minister’s connection to him.


“For the ruling party, the house is a symbol of their legacy,” said Li Shengwu, Lee Hsien Yang’s son, an economist at Harvard University. “It is a symbol uniquely associated with them and gives them legitimacy.”


But questions of legitimacy and abuse of power cut to the core weakness of a one-party state.


“The people are more aware that the key issue is the abuse of political power by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the People’s Action Party, but there are few checks and balances to prevent such abuse,” Sinapan Samydorai, the director of Asean (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) affairs at Think Center, a nonprofit policy center in Singapore, said in an email.

“民众愈发意识到,关键问题在于李显龙总理和人民行动党滥用政治权力,但甚少有防止权力滥用的制衡措施,”新加坡非营利性政策研究中心思考中心(Think Center)的东盟事务总监西纳潘·萨米多拉伊(Sinapan Samydorai)在一封电子邮件中表示。

“The trust and legitimacy of the government is being eroded, and the people’s confidence in the system may slowly evaporate,” he added.


So more than Lee Hsien Loong’s reputation was on the line when he went before Parliament on Monday.


On the dynasty question, he said his son, Li Hongyi, had no interest in politics, and Mr. Lee denied that he wanted to preserve the house to exploit his father’s “aura.”

谈及关于建立王朝的质疑,李显龙说他儿子李鸿毅(Li Hongyi)对政治不感兴趣,他还否认自己意图通过保存故居来利用父亲的“光环”。

“If I needed such magic properties to bolster my authority even after being your P.M. for 13 years, I must be in a pretty sad state,” he said.


As for the no-longer-secret committee, he insisted that he had nothing to do with it and had recused himself from any government decisions relating to the house. The committee’s job, he said, was only to “list options for the house, so that when a decision does become necessary one day” the government would be prepared.


But the younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, said Monday that the prime minister was using the committee to “attack the validity of our father’s final will.” Any such questions should be decided by a court, he said.


Analysts said the prime minister needed to put the issue to rest and to reassure the public that Singapore’s government was fair-minded and aboveboard.


It was not clear on Monday whether the day of speeches, which included canned questions but no discussion or debate, had achieved that.


“So far it has been a tightly scripted process that seeks to show that the processes and controls in government are adequate and so the alleged abuses could not have been possible,” said Eugene Tan, an associate law professor at Singapore Management University. “But the jury is still out as to whether they have been sufficient to persuade and convince.”

“截至目前一切严格按脚本进行,旨在表明政府的流程和管控都是正当的,因此不可能存在所谓的滥用权力,”新加坡管理大学(Singapore Management University)法学副教授陈庆文(Eugene Tan)说。“但尚不清楚其说服力是否足够大。”

The hearing continues for a second and final day on Tuesday.