SINGAPORE -The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew had upheld communitarian laws over the interests of individuals, and it is hard to imagine that he would insist the authorities cannot acquire his property or preserve it, said Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong on Monday (July 3).
"If in life he submitted himself to the rule of law, I cannot imagine him overruling it in death," said Ms Chia. "We must give due weight to Mr Lee's wishes... (but) it will not be right to demolish the house solely because he had wished it."
She added: "We cannot compromise the rule of law."
She was one of over 20 MPs who spoke on the first day of a debate in Parliament on the alleged abuse of power involving the house on 38, Oxley Road.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's younger siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, have accused their older brother of misusing his power to prevent the demolition of their late father's house, and questioned the need for a ministerial committee to study options for the house.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, speaking in Parliament on Monday, said the Government was merely following proper processes in setting up a committee to consider the public interest aspects of the house which has historical and heritage significance.
In the debate that followed, MPs stressed that the rule of law and due processes should not be compromised when considering options for the house, which range from demolition to preservation.
Ms Sun Xue Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) said it appears ironic that those who accuse the Prime Minister of abusing his power are asking for an upfront commitment to the demolition of the house, as that would mean an exemption from the rule of law.
Similarly, Mr Teo, in his speech, noted that PM Lee "did the proper thing" by recusing himself and allowing the Cabinet, without him, to decide on how to proceed with the matter.
"If PM Lee had not recused himself, and had simply as PM, ordered the government agencies to demolish the House without due process, that would truly have been an abuse of authority and power," he said. Meanwhile, Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), stressed that land acquisition laws should apply equally, regardless of background.
Such issues need to be explained, he said, as the rule of law does not just depend on equal application and due process, but public confidence in this process.