Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in Parliament on Monday that he will not be taking legal action against his two siblings, Dr Lee Weiling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang for allegations of him abusing of the Prime Minister’s authority to advance his personal agenda. He said that suing his own brother and sister in court would further besmirch the names of late Mr and Mrs Lee.
Over the past three weeks, PM Lee and his cabinet have been accused by his two siblings for abuse of authority and attempts to attack the last wish of late Lee Kuan Yew on the demolition clause of the property at 38 Oxley Road. They also accused PM Lee’s wife, Ms Ho Ching of abusing her position as the wife of PM in many Facebook posts.
“At the end of the day, we are brothers 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.” said Mr Lee in Parliament as he sought to explain the whole story between him and his siblings, trying to convince the fellow Members of Parliament that there are no basis to the accusations by his two siblings.
However, several members of Parliament have voiced their opinion on the matter, stating that the PM should address the allegations in court given the grave impact it has on the public confidence in the public institution.
MP of Aljunied GRC and Secretary General of Workers’ Party, Low Thia Khiang said in Parliament, “I am of the view that the correct platform to settle the private dispute is the Court. Individuals who made less serious allegations that undermine the reputation and authority of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have been brought to task for libel. There is no reason why this time it should be different because it is from the Lee family; and the allegations are much more serious.
Given the past track record, not doing so would risk the Government giving the impression that it is afraid of what the Lee siblings might say or reveal. This will taint the trust Singaporeans has placed on the Government and compromise the high standards that the Government prides itself on achieving and aspires to maintain.”
Mr Pritam Singh also a MP of Aljunied GRC, said, “n the normal course of events, the Government would do precisely that – leave the matter to be settled by lawyers in court. Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Ms Lee Wei Ling would expect to face multiple defamation lawsuits for alleging that the Prime Minister has either lied or been corrupt in its dealings. As this has not happened and in view of the political culture that I have spoken of, there are Singaporeans who believe that the allegations made against the Prime Minister may have more than a grain of truth to them.”
Below is Prime Minister Lee’s speech on the part where he said he will not be suing. To read the full speech, visit this link to Prime Minister’s Office’s website.
I have brought this matter to Parliament because Singaporeans are entitled to a full answer from me and my Government. Parliament may not be a court of law, but it is the highest body in the land. It is also where my Government and I are accountable to MPs and to the people of Singapore.
Many people have asked me why I am not taking legal action, to challenge the will, or sue for defamation, or take some other legal action to put a stop to this and clear my name. These are valid questions. I took advice and considered my options very carefully. I believe I have a strong case. In normal circumstances, in fact, in any other imaginable circumstance than this, I would sue immediately because the accusation of the abuse of power is a very grave one, however baseless it may be and it is in fact an attack not just on me, but on the integrity of the whole Government. But, suing my own brother and sister in court would further besmirch our parents’ names. At the end of the day, we are brothers 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.
Every family will understand that family disputes do happen, but they are not something to flaunt in public. That is why I have done my best to deal with this out of the public eye. For example, I kept my submissions to the Ministerial Committee private. My purpose was not to pursue a fight with my siblings, but to assist the Committee in its work. 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. I stand by the statements I have published but I really do not want to go further if I can help it.
Today I am making this statement in Parliament to account to Members and to Singaporeans and to deal with the issue expeditiously so that Singaporeans can understand what it is all about and we can put the matter to rest, I hope, once and for all.
DPM Teo will be making a Ministerial Statement after me. He will explain his and the Government’s actions and decisions on this matter. Other relevant Ministers will speak too. I invite Members to raise all questions, suspicions or doubts directly in this Chamber, with me and my team.
I have seen the questions filed by the Workers’ Party MPs. It is striking that the questions are general and concern broad principles and rules. They contain no specific allegations or facts about any wrongdoing or impropriety. But if I am mistaken and the WP has come across such allegations or facts, please raise them today. My Ministers and I will deal with all their questions and give comprehensive answers because we have nothing to hide.
I have told the PAP MPs that I am lifting the Party Whip. Strictly speaking, there is no Whip to lift, since no vote will be taken. But I said this to emphasise what I expect from this debate – a robust questioning and a full airing and accounting of the public issues and allegations. All MPs, whether you are PAP MPs, opposition MPs, or NMPs, should query me and my Ministers vigorously and without restraint. That is the way to dispel all the doubts, innuendo and tittle tattle that has been planted and circulated.
That is the way to strengthen confidence in our institutions and our system of government, and refocus our energies on the challenges that we face as a nation.