PM Lee addressed siblings' allegations in Parliament
PM Lee Hsien Loong says if he needs Oxley House to enhance his aura, he'd be in a pretty sad state
In Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed his younger siblings' allegations that he had abused his power on matters involving the house of their late father, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, at 38, Oxley Road. Here are some highlights:
ABUSE OF POWER
PM Lee's siblings had accused him of abusing his power by setting up a ministerial committee to look into the different options for the Oxley Road house.
But PM Lee said he had nothing to do with the committee, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
To avoid conflict of interest, he recused himself from all government decisions related to the house, and only responded to the Committee's requests in writing - no different from his siblings.
Calling his decision the "standard practice" for someone facing a potential conflict of interest, he told the House: "Suppose instead that I had decided as PM to knock the house down, and had pushed that decision through without allowing the Government to consider the alternatives, weigh the considerations, and go through due process, just because it was what my father wanted.
"That would have been a real abuse of power.
"That would have gone against the whole system of rules and values that Mr Lee Kuan Yew spent his whole life upholding and building up."
DEED OF GIFT
PM Lee disagreed with his siblings' accusation that he had "improperly obtained" a deed of gift that formalised the gifting of artefacts from 38, Oxley Road, to the National Heritage Board (NHB), and then given it to his lawyers.
"The deed was signed by my sister and brother, who were acting for my father's estate. I was one of the beneficiaries of the estate. I was entitled to be consulted by my siblings before they did this, but I was not consulted," he said.
Later, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong informed PM Lee on the conditions attached to the gift to NHB. He also gave the deed to PM Lee, who said he had every right to see it as PM.
The gift came with conditions that were imposed by his siblings: to display the artefacts with just half of the demolition clause, and for the gifts to be taken back for $1 if the terms of the deed were breached.
"Therefore, this was not a gift at all. They had misled the public. Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew had gifted many items to NHB during their lives, and they had never imposed any conditions on their gifts remotely like these," said PM Lee.
As the PM, he had to act, he said. He then wrote to his siblings through lawyers to object to what they had done, and told Mr Wong to take instructions from Mr Teo on this matter.
On allegations about nepotism, PM Lee said his son Li Hongyi is not interested in politics.
As for his wife Ho Ching, who is chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings, he said: "If Ho Ching ever behaves improperly, I have no doubt that the Temasek Board, the President and Council of Presidential Advisors know what their duty is."
And about the allegation that the house would enhance his aura as PM, he said:
"If I needed such magic properties to bolster my authority even after being your PM for 13 years, I must be in a pretty sad state.
"And if Singaporeans believed such magic worked in Singapore, Singapore must be in an even sadder state."
NO LEGAL ACTION
Though his siblings' allegations about him and the Government were "very grave" and "baseless", Mr Lee said he decided not to sue as it would further besmirch their parents' names.
"At the end of the day, we are brother and sister and we are all our parents' children.
"It would also drag out the process for years, and cause more distraction and distress to Singaporeans. Therefore, fighting this out in court cannot be my preferred choice," he said.
PM Lee added that he has tried his best to keep the matter out of the public eye.
"Unfortunately, my siblings made public allegations against me and then I had no choice but to defend myself, and release the statements and facts about the matter," he said.
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Lee siblings aware of ministerial committee: DPM Teo
In a speech in Parliament yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is chairman of the ministerial committee tasked to consider options for 38, Oxley Road, highlighted several points about its scope of work.
NOT A SECRET COMMITTEE
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang were informed about the committee on July 27 last year, shortly after it was formed, said DPM Teo in response to the Lee siblings' accusations of a "secret" committee being set up.
DPM Teo said the siblings must be "truthful and honest" about their knowledge of the committee.
"They were also invited to make representations to the committee. This was not done in isolation. Indeed, if this were a secret committee and they were not aware of its existence, how could they be making representations," said DPM Teo.
COMMITTEE NOT LOOKING INTO VALIDITY OF WILL
DPM Teo said the siblings were told "clearly" that the ministerial committee was not looking into Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will on April 25.He also said the committee has no power to decide on the validity of the last will.
The circumstances of the last will, however, became relevant because Mr Lee Hsien Yang's representations to the committee placed reliance on one part of the last will as the primary evidence of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's intent for 38, Oxley Road.
The committee had received differing views, including on the drafting of the last will, said DPM Teo.
NO DECISION ON 38, OXLEY ROAD
DPM Teo said there is a misconception that the Government is seeking to make a decision now over the fate of the house.
In fact, there is no decision required as long as Dr Lee Wei Ling lives in the house.
"It is merely preparing drawer plans of various options and their implications so that a future Government can refer to them and make a considered and informed decision when the time comes to decide on the matter...
"However, if Dr Lee chooses to leave earlier, say within a few months, then Cabinet and Government will have to decide, and it would be useful to have studied the different options."