Oxley Road: Govt will continue to carry out responsibilities objectively, fairly, says DPM Teo Chee Hean

SINGAPORE - While Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean hopes that the Lee siblings can resolve their disagreements over their late father's house privately, the Government will continue to carry out its responsibilities on matters relating to it.

And it will do so "objectively, fairly and calmly", Mr Teo told Parliament on Tuesday (July 4).

He also looked at where Singapore should go from here, after two days of debate on allegations made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling that their brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had abused his power in pursuit of his own agenda.

The prime minister and ministers have cleared the air, he said, to show that they acted properly.

"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 to do their duty," said Mr Teo.

But he had conciliatory words for the younger Lee siblings, drawing on his personal interactions with them.

 
 

Mr Teo noted his four decades-long relationship with PM Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. They had 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," he said.

"The Hsien Loong I see now is the same Hsien Loong I have known all these years - an upright person who stands by his principles, and does what is right... I hope that he will contribute his knowledge and experience to Singapore for a long time to come."

And the younger Mr Lee, too, has given much in the Singapore Armed Forces, and in the private and public sector. When Mr Teo met him six times after the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 2015, "we spoke to each other with consideration and respect as we always have", he recalled.

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

"For Hsien Yang, I hope that the pain and 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."

And on Dr Lee, whom he has known for many year, Mr Teo said: "She must have been going through a 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."

He assured her that the Government has said it will not do anything to affect her right to live on at the Oxley Road house, adding: "I wish her happiness, time to do the things which she enjoys with her friends, and above all, good health and a long life."

Call for emotions to cool

Mr Teo repeated a call he made on Monday to allow for emotions to cool.

"When emotions are raw, misunderstandings can arise, and feelings hurt... I hope that with the passage of time, and the cooling of emotions that 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," he said.

But, the Government still has to carry out its responsibilities, he added.

"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," he said.

Mr Teo said that he hoped that as Singaporeans pondered options for the house, and how best to remember the country's struggles during independence, as well as the values of the late Mr Lee and his fellow pioneers, it should be an occasion for unity.

"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," he said. "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, our public officers will build upon the firm foundations of our House, Singapore, and make it even stronger."