Oxley dispute: No basis for a select committee now as allegations have not been substantiated, says PM Lee

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would decide on future actions depending on what other allegations were made.

SINGAPORE - There is no basis to form a Parliamentary Select Committee or Commission of Inquiry (COI) as the allegations of abuse of power made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling have not been substantiated, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

After two days of debate on the matter, no evidence of abuse of power has been produced, he told Parliament on Tuesday (July 4).

"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 a Select Committee or COI, and drag this out for months?" PM Lee said.

"It will be another Korean drama, full-scale serial. Should we set up select committees to investigate every unsubstantiated allegation, every wild rumour?" he added, in response to Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) during the two-days of debate.

PM Lee did not, however, rule out the possibility of setting up such bodies to look into the matter if more evidence emerges.

"If there is evidence of wrongdoing which emerges, or alleged evidence of wrongdoing which emerges, then I and the Government will consider what further steps to take," he said.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes his closing speech in Parliament on July 4.

"We can have a Select committee, we can have a COI, or I may sue for defamation, or take some other legal action, but until then, let's get back to more important things that we should be doing."

Several MPs had suggested forming a Select Committee or COI to conduct an official investigation, including Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin, Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC).

In response, PM Lee said there are no specifics to his siblings' charge of abuse of power.

"What specifically did I do that was wrong? What was wrong with that, whatever that may be? Who was involved? When did it happen?" he said.

He added that MPs have the responsibility to ask for explanations and answers from the Government if they have allegations of their own to make.

"If MPs believe that something is wrong, it is MPs' job to pursue the facts and make those allegations in their own name...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, and ask for a Select Committee or COI because accusations are around," he said.

"The accusers may not be in Parliament, but that should not stop MPs from talking to them to get their story, there is nothing to stop the accusers from getting in touch with MPs, including opposition MPs, to tell their story so that the MPs can raise it on their behalf in Parliament.

"That is how Parliament is supposed to work, that is the MPs' duties. In fact that is one reason why Parliamentary Privilege exists, so that MPs that have heard troubling allegations or news can make allegations in the House even if they are not completely proven and may be defamatory, without fear of being sued for defamation," he said.

PM Lee also reiterated that he does not wish to sue his siblings for defamation.

He had attempted to resolve the family dispute privately, without escalating the situation and resorting to legal recourse.

But his siblings made public allegations against him on June 14, and PM Lee said he was forced to respond by releasing a summary of the Statutory Declarations he had made earlier about their father's house at 38, Oxley Road.

"I stand by what I swore in the (Statutory Declarations) and published in the statement, but I really don't want to go further along the way if I can help it. I did not, and still do not, want to escalate the quarrel.

"At each point, I decided not to try to enforce my full legal rights. My priority was to resolve the matter privately, and avoid a collision," he said, responding to questions from MPs on why he is not taking legal action against his siblings.

Mr Low, for instance, had said the court was the proper platform to settle the feud.

PM Lee agreed with Mr Low that everything possible should be done to bring the issue to a quick resolution, but said that going to court will not achieve this.

"It would drag out the process for years, cause further distress to Singaporeans, and distract us from the many urgent issues that we must deal with," he said.

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