PAP MP Charles Chong’s question on PSD opinion poll left half unanswered

Member of Parliament for Punggol East SMC, Charles Chong stood in Parliament yesterday to ask about the opinion poll that was carried out by the Public Service Division to seek feedback from public officers on their views in regards to the accusations made by the children of late Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Lee Weiling and Mr Lee Hsien Loong against their brother, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who is also the Prime Minister of Singapore.

It was reported that there was an opinion poll from the Public Service Division (PSD) under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to poll civil/public servants for their opinions on the Lee Family dispute.

According to the screenshots of the opinion poll, it is entitled, “Poll on Lee Family Dispute” and is carried out by the PSD Engage.

The poll shows three questions that relate to the ongoing saga between the Lee siblings.  One asks the public servant’s view on the matter, the second asks if the incident has affected his or her confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the public institutions, the third asks if it is appropriate for the Prime Minister to address the issue in Parliament. It is unknown how many questions are there in total.

PSD has confirmed in a statement with media that such a poll was conducted. PSD and is quoted to have said that “the allegations made go beyond private matters and extend to the conduct and integrity of the Government and our public institutions”.

It further stated, “We are polling public officers to understand their sentiments on this issue as it involves the integrity of our public institutions, of which they are an important part.” and it periodically polls public officers on issues that matter to them as part of “stakeholder engagement”.

Mr Chong asked whether these type of polls of appropriate as it is unclear if there is any actionable steps which can be taken with the survey results.

He asked if the Ministers could answer the following questions,

  • what is the result of the poll
  • What the data of the poll will be used for
  • whether there will be any concrete action to follow the results of the poll.

Mr Chong also stated that the statements and postings made by both side expose a very deep rift between the Lee family. He pointed that whether anyone care to admit or not, Lee Kuan Yew and the Lee family name is inextricably linked with Singapore. For many Singaporeans, conflict of this nature with the Lee family, extends beyond private dispute especially since many public allegations and counter allegations have been made and continued to be made about how Singapore is being governed.

He asked if there would be any possibility of reconciliation between the PM and his siblings, which the PM replied by stating: “I, too, would like to think this is possible. It will be a difficult and a long road. But I hope that one day, some rapprochement may be possible…I hope that one day, these passions will subside, and we can begin to reconcile,”

At the start of the debate on 3 July, PM Lee said, “I intend to clear the air today, to explain the matter fully and to answer all questions about the matter. I am not here to make a case against my siblings. Parliament is not the place for that. What is private, I will try to resolve privately. But what is public, I have to explain and render account.”

DPM Teo in his closing statement replied to Mr Chong’s question, by saying:

Mr Charles Chong asked about the poll to our public officers. As part of regular stakeholder engagement, the Public Service Division (“PSD”) periodically seeks the sentiments of public officers on issues that matter to them. The PSD conducted a poll because the allegations made by Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang go beyond private matters and extend to the integrity of Government and public institutions. Madam Speaker, our officers continue to have confidence in the integrity of our institutions. Most officers thought there is some impact on the credibility of the Singapore Government among Singapore, but Singapore’s reputation will recover. The Public Service will take this opportunity to reinforce the importance of understanding and living the Public Service Code of Conduct.

Singapore ranks highly on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for corruption. Others are watching and evaluating us as we conduct this debate.

They are watching today too, as we debate and address these allegations of abuse of power and they will see that we are prepared to do so openly in this House, facing the issues directly to clear the air on these issues. Prime Minister, myself, Ministers, we have accounted to all of you. Every Member of Parliament must speak freely in this House and we are expected to do so. But when a person casts a shadow on the whole of Government and its workings from outside this House, then that is a different matter and there are rules governing this.