38, OXLEY ROAD DEBATE: Speech excerpts

We can all rise above Oxley Road dispute, says DPM Teo

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean responded to 30 MPs who spoke during the parliamentary debate on the Oxley Road house dispute, saying the allegations have been aired, answered to and rebutted. Here are extracts of their closing speeches.

Prime Minister and ministers have cleared the air and showed that we have acted properly. I have described the robust processes we have for political appointment holders, civil servants and government MPs to address potential conflicts of interest. We help officers understand and live the Code of Conduct, and deal with errant officers firmly.

This shows that this Government is open and transparent, and accountable for what it does. Especially in Parliament, we demonstrate that too. This also shows that we have institutions to make sure that we continue to have a good and honest government in Singapore. I hope that these unfounded allegations will stop. They have no basis, and undermine confidence in our system of governance and unfairly tar our public officers, who are trying their best to do their duty.

The Lee siblings

Madam Speaker, I hope that with the conclusion of this debate, we can put the allegations of abuse of power to rest. But where do we go from here? As a nation and as a people?

Like many Singaporeans, I am sure that members of this House have been deeply saddened, shocked and confused by the events of these past three weeks.

I am certain that Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew would not have wanted this to have happened.

Madam Speaker, I would like to add a personal note. I have known Hsien Loong and Hsien Yang for over 40 years. We served together as colleagues and comrades in the Singapore Armed Forces. I have held both of them in high regard for their intellect, objectivity, commitment and dedication to Singapore.

The Hsien Loong I see now, today, is the same Hsien Loong I have known all these years - an upright earnest person who stands by his principles, and does what is right. As Ms Sun Xueling, Dr Lee Bee Wah and others have mentioned, and many Singaporeans know, Hsien Loong has done much for Singapore and he has much more to contribute, serving Singapore and Singaporeans as our Prime Minister. I hope that he will contribute his knowledge and experience to Singapore for a long time to come.


Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean assures Parliament, and all the Lee siblings, that on the matters that he has the responsibility to deal with, in particular with regard to 38, Oxley Road, he will continue to deal with them objectively and fairly, all the time working for the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans. PHOTO: PARLIAMENT HOUSE OF SINGAPORE

 

Hsien Yang, too, has contributed much. He was my colleague and we worked together. He has contributed much in the Singapore Armed Forces and in the private and public sectors. We have met a number of times since his father passed away. We spoke to each other with consideration and respect, as we always have.

It is with deep sadness that the Hsien Yang I see now is not the Hsien Yang I knew. I see hurt and strong emotions consuming him. I do not understand what underlying deep-rooted reasons there may be for this.

For Hsien Yang, I hope that these strong emotions that I see now in his heart will dampen over time, and that he will find peace and solace within himself. He has more to contribute to Singapore if he chooses to. I wish Hsien Yang and his family well, as I always have.

I have known Wei Ling also for many years, though not as well. She must have been going through a very difficult time over the past few years, living with her parents and looking after them while they were unwell. And losing both of them, while stoically facing her own health challenges.

For Wei Ling, the Government has said that it will not do anything to affect her right to continue living at No. 38, Oxley Road. I wish her happiness, time to do the things which she enjoys with her friends, now that she has the time, and, above all, good health and a long life.

Madam Speaker, when Mr Lee passed away, it was an emotional period for all Singaporeans. And how much more so it must have been for the immediate members of the family. When emotions are raw, misunderstandings can arise, and feelings can be hurt. When I met Hsien Loong and Hsien Yang in the weeks after Mr Lee's passing, and Wei Ling a little later, my words to them were "let time pass".

I hope that with the passage of time and the cooling of emotions, the siblings can resolve their private disagreements within the family. Singaporeans, too, can give the space to Prime Minister Lee and his siblings to work through their disagreements. I hope that is possible.

Madam Speaker, the Government, however, still has to carry out its responsibilities objectively, fairly and calmly. I would like to assure this House, and all the siblings, that on the matters that I have the responsibility to deal with, in particular with regard to No. 38, Oxley Road, I will continue to deal with them objectively and fairly, all the time working for the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans.

The way forward

Madam Speaker, Hsien Loong, Wei Ling and Hsien Yang, are the sons and daughter of Mr Lee. I agree with Dr Tan Wu Meng, that all of us, too, are also "sons and daughters" of Mr Lee. Mr Lee and his generation of leaders fought hard for all of us, and gave us the Singapore we have today.

He and our pioneers brought us all up, built this house which we call Singapore. We have learnt the lessons that he taught us, and which he demonstrated through his own example. No one is above the law, or bigger than our collective interest, as Ms Chia Yong Yong has passionately pointed out.

Mr Lee himself understood that he, too, had to abide by the processes and system that he helped build, and that the Government has a duty to consider the public interest and not just those of private individuals. He and his generation built the institutions which uphold these principles. But most of all, he taught us, all of us, to uphold these principles.

Madam Speaker, we, all of us, are also the "sons and daughters" brought up by Mr Lee. We have not been written into Mr Lee's will. But what he has left to all of us is more precious, more valuable. He left us our Singapore, our big house, which he worked together with us to build, and which we are all proud to call our home. This episode is a painful one for all of us.

But I am confident that this big house we call Singapore will remain strong and robust. Mr Lee and our pioneer leaders put in firm foundations - robust processes, institutions and a system of governance which we have continued to strengthen. Members of this House, ministers, PM, our public officers, all Singaporeans - we were all brought up to do our utmost to respect and uphold the values, institutions and processes that are built upon the foundations laid by our founding generation.

Closing

Madam Speaker, when Mr Lee passed on, Singaporeans came together. Our hearts wept and we grieved together. That moment united all of us, and reminded us of who we are and what we stand for. It uplifted us, giving us renewed spirit to face the future together.

I hope that as we ponder the options for No. 38, Oxley Road, and how best to remember the struggles of our independence years, and the values that Mr Lee and our pioneers passed down to us, this should also be an occasion to unite us. There is no reason why this should divide us. Mr Lee in his wisdom left us enough room to decide, and placed his trust in us to do so.

Madam Speaker, the house that Mr Lee and our pioneers left us is a strong one. It is built on firm foundations. I am confident that all of us, all members of this House, all Singaporeans and our public officers will build upon the firm foundations of our house - Singapore - and make it even stronger.

This is the legacy that Mr Lee and his pioneer generation left us. This is what they would expect us to do. We can all rise above this. We have the confidence and ability to do so. Let us unite together and fulfil that promise.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'We can all rise above Oxley Road dispute, says DPM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe