Last night, the Prime Minister Office published statements issued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister stating their stance in response to the public statement made by Dr Lee Weiling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang after the Parliamentary debate came to a close.
The public statement by the two siblings wrote that they had attempted to reach out over the past two years, through various intermediaries and privately offered a ceasefire shortly after their statement of 14 June 2017. But their attempts at reconciliation were rebuffed, therefore they welcome PM Lee’s stated desire on 4 July 2017 to manage his disagreement with them in private, without the involvement of lawyers or government agencies.
They also stated that they will cease presenting further evidence on social media, provided that they and late Lee Kuan Yew’s wish are not attacked or misrepresented. On their allegations of abuse of authority, they wrote that it is ultimately up to the government, and the people of Singapore, to decide whether and how to hold their brother to account.
I note my siblings’ latest public statement. I share their wish not to carry on the dispute in public and to manage the disagreement in private. That is exactly what I have been trying to do.
My siblings’ statement also repeats their previous allegations against me. I have already refuted these and stand by what I have said.
My siblings referred to a ceasefire offer from them. They wanted me to call off my Ministerial Statement and the debate in Parliament, disband the Ministerial Committee, and not respond to their accusations. I could not agree to do any of that. It would have been improper and irresponsible.
I note that Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have stated on 6 July 2017 that they welcome Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s desire, stated on 4 July 2017, to manage the disagreement in private. Like most Singaporeans, I regard this as a positive development.
With regard to Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s allegations against the Ministerial Committee, public agencies and public officers, the Government has already responded comprehensively to all of them in Parliament.
With this development, I hope that we can all work together and focus our energy on taking Singapore forward.
Question on the red line between public and private
While it is perfectly alright for DPM Teo to be responding through the Prime Minister’s Office to the statements made by the two siblings as he is not related to the two in private capacity and is responding as both DPM and the head of the Ministerial Committee in charge of communicating with the two over the 38 Oxley Road. But is it not again a blurred line for the Prime Minister to have responded to his siblings’ call for a ceasefire through his office?
After all, the two siblings made the call to their brother to respect their father’s wishes and not calling for the Prime Minister to respond. Also, given that PM has labelled the affair as a private dispute between his family, while he is again addressing the matter as the head of the government?
Workers’ Party Secretary General Low Thia Khiang said in his speech for the debate, “The problem with this whole saga is that the line between the private and the public has been blurred and crossed too many times by the Prime Minister, the Lee siblings and the Government too.”
It would have been proper for PM Lee to have made the statement on his personal Facebook page as an individual instead of speaking as the Prime Minister in the form of a public statement through the PMO. An act which seem to yet reinforce the idea of abusing of authority by the two siblings and what Mr Low said about blurring of lines between private and public.