Lee Weiling asks whether the cabinet committee to consider govt decision on 38 Oxley Road a secret

In a Facebook post on Friday afternoon, Dr Lee Weiling brings up the question of whether the cabinet committee that was formed to consider the options of government decision on the property at 38 Oxley Road a secret committee.

The committee that is formed by cabinet members and headed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean was only made known to public after Dr Lee and her brother, Lee Hsien Yang published a joint statement on 14 June denouncing their elder brother, Lee Hsien Loong as the Prime Minister of Singapore for abusing the powers vested in him for personal agenda. All three are children of late Lee Kuan Yew who is revered as the founding minister of independent Singapore.

In their joint statement, the two siblings wrote that they were informed by Minister Lawrence Wong in July 2016 that a Ministerial Committee had been set up to consider options with respect to 38 Oxley Road and their implications after Lee Hsien Yang got into an agreement the year before to purchase the property from PM Lee at 100% of market share and a make another donation of 50% of that value.

“This also directly contradicted Hsien Loong’s statement in Parliament in April 2015 that there was no need for the Government to take a decision in respect of 38 Oxley Road until Wei Ling no longer resided there, and that it would be up to the Government of the day to consider the matter. ” wrote the two on this matter.

In DPM Teo’s statement on 17 June, he wrote,

“There is nothing “secret” about this committee. It is a committee like numerous other committees that Cabinet may set up from time to time to consider specific issues.

I chair this particular committee, and included cabinet members responsible for heritage, land issues and urban planning, i.e. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Law K Shanmugam, and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.”

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam also wrote in his Facebook page on 22 June,

I have to say there is no mystery as to why a Ministerial committee was set up to look into the options for 38 Oxley Road. DPM Teo, who chairs Cabinet on matters to do with the house, has explained straightforwardly why he set it up.

We in fact do this often – setting up special committees comprising a group of Ministers. We started the practice many years ago, and it has evolved. It’s how we ensure that important issues are given in-depth attention, and the options are weighed up by the Ministers closer to the issue, before Cabinet makes its decisions and takes collective responsibility. And it’s how we ensure that we are not a Government that operates in silos, that the national interest prevails even when there are valid sectoral or private interests, and that the long view prevails over the short view wherever possible.

In Dr Lee’s latest post, she raises a several questions which highlight the secrecy of the committee.

  • The Committee refused to identify its full membership for almost a year.
  • The committee refused to state terms of reference despite may requests from LKY’s estate.
  • DPM Teo never disclosed to LKY’s estate what options the committee was considering.
  • Only when forced into daylight do they say that its purpose is to make a ‘recommendation’ to future govts.

She ended by asking, “If this was really their purpose, why did they refuse to say so when the Estate asked?”

So far, much of the allegations against the committee have been brush aside with motherhood statements such as those by the two DPMs and the Prime Minister himself.