38, OXLEY ROAD DEBATE

No basis for select committee now, says PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there was no basis of allegations of abuse of power.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not rule out the possibility of a parliamentary select committee or a commission of inquiry (COI) being formed should evidence of wrongdoing emerge.

But, he told Parliament as he wrapped up a two-day debate on charges of abuse of power, there is no basis for that right now.

He said: "People can see that there has been no abuse of power, by me or the Government."

The debate has given Singaporeans a full account of how the Government works, and what it has done in the case of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house.

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And allegations have been aired and rebutted.

No evidence of abuse of power has been produced in the two days of debate, PM Lee said.

 

"Even the opposition is not accusing the Government of abuse of power. So, it is not a case of oneself defend oneself. Why do we need in these circumstances a select committee or COI, and drag this out for months?" he asked.

Referring to a jibe made by Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) yesterday when he expressed the hope that the feud between the Lee siblings would not become a "Korean drama show", PM Lee said: "It would be another Korean drama full-scale serial. Should we set up select committees to investigate every unsubstantiated allegation, every wild rumour?"

If, however, evidence of wrongdoing emerges, he and the Government will consider what steps to take. But until then, he said, "let's get back to more important things that we should be working on".

Several MPs across party lines, such as Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin, Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), had suggested forming a select committee or COI to conduct an official investigation.

But PM Lee's reply is that there have been no specifics to his siblings' accusations of abuse of power. "What specifically did I do that was wrong?... Who was involved? When did it happen?"

If MPs believe something is wrong, it is their duty to pursue it, and make allegations of wrongdoing in their own name, he added.

The accusers are free to get in touch with MPs, including opposition MPs, to tell their story so that MPs can raise it on their behalf in Parliament. That is the purpose of parliamentary privilege, so that MPs can make allegations in the House without fear of being sued for defamation, he said.

He added: "If having heard the Government, you are still not satisfied, then by all means demand a select committee or a COI, but do not just repeat allegations and attribute them to others, or ask for a select committee or COI because accusations are around."

The public dispute between PM Lee and his younger siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, has captured the nation's attention in the past few weeks.

But it is time to move forward, PM Lee said as he brought two days of debate to a close yesterday.

He highlighted Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong and Mr Low urging Singaporeans to focus on more pressing issues, and unite.

"I fully agree with them. We must all get back to work. This is not a soap opera. Come together, tackle the challenges before us," said PM Lee. "My team and I will do our best to continue building this Singapore, keeping it safe and making it prosper."

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'No basis for select committee now, says PM Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe