Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has "full confidence" in the integrity of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, he said yesterday.
Speaking in Parliament on allegations of abuse of power by PM Lee in relation to the house at 38, Oxley Road, Mr Goh said the debate must end with a clear conclusion: PM Lee must either be cleared of the allegations or be censured.
"After so much has been said by both sides and the Government, it is clear that the allegations are baseless," he said, calling on MPs, including Workers' Party MPs and nominated MPs, to state their position on the integrity of the PM and the Government.
In reaffirming his confidence in PM Lee, Mr Goh said: "I have known and worked closely with him for more than 30 years. I brought him into politics in 1984, and I should add, it was not at Lee Kuan Yew's behest.
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"He was my Deputy Prime Minister for 14 years. He has been Prime Minister for some 13 years."
Mr Goh, who was prime minister from 1990 to 2004, recalled how he had called for a similar debate in Parliament in 1996, to look into the purchase of discounted apartment units in Nassim Jade by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then DPM Lee Hsien Loong.
"My judgment and integrity were at stake then as today, when I state my conclusion on the PM's character and integrity," he said.
RELATIONSHIP GOES BACK MORE THAN 30 YEARS
I reaffirm my full confidence in the integrity of the Prime Minister. I have known and worked closely with him for more than 30 years. I brought him into politics in 1984, and I should add, it was not at Lee Kuan Yew's behest. He was my Deputy Prime Minister for 14 years. He has been Prime Minister for some 13 years.
EMERITUS SENIOR MINISTER GOH CHOK TONG
He questioned the motives of PM Lee's siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling. They had made accusations against their brother in a June 14 statement and other online posts since then.
Mr Goh said the Prime Minister is central in upholding the incorruptibility of Government, which is what distinguishes Singapore. This is why he must be of impeccable character.
"When trust in the Prime Minister disappears, his moral authority and political capital shrivel. Therefore, the constant self-policing, restraint and care of the Prime Minister in wielding the immense power at his disposal is paramount."
Mr Goh also vouched for the character of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and the Cabinet ministers in the ministerial committee looking into options for the house. He said he brought Mr Teo into politics after he distinguished himself in the Republic of Singapore Navy, and they stood together in the 1992 by-election in Marine Parade GRC.
"He went on to serve key appointments with distinction. Today, he is Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service and Coordinating Minister for National Security. To suggest that he would do PM's bidding blindly is to insult the civil service and Singapore Armed Forces, never mind the PAP and DPM.
"Many of the other ministers served under Lee Kuan Yew, too. And they have stood up to him. Lee Kuan Yew told them that he wanted to have his house demolished after his death. They said 'no'. They are not yes-men," he said.
It is imperative the issue is settled so that trust can be restored and further damage to Singapore's reputation can be prevented, he added.
Mr Goh urged the Lee siblings to settle their dispute quickly, sort out any misunderstandings and reconcile, or at least prevent the situation from worsening.
"If reason fails, I appeal to the emotions and sensibility of the Lees to stop trying to drag each other down and move on... Keep the quarrel private and seek mediation or arbitration to resolve your differences," he said.
"No one doubts your deep filial piety... your parents were proud of you. This is what your father said during the debate on the Nassim Jade episode: 'The proudest thing (for your mother) are her three children - upright, well-behaved and honourable... They were brought up straight, they are likely to stay straight. It is like, as I have said, a code of honour. If you break that code, you have brought shame... upon yourself and family.' "