SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he does not give any instructions to the ministerial committee on 38, Oxley Road, or to its members, and only corresponds with them in writing when they have requests, just as his siblings do.
"This is the right and proper way to handle a conflict of interest," he told Parliament when delivering a ministerial statement on Monday (July 3).
The setting up of the ministerial committee is one of three main allegations of abuse of power made by PM Lee's siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, since their first statement on June 14, said PM Lee.
The second concerns the deed of gift for items from the house that were to be displayed in an exhibition by the National Heritage Board.
The third concerns accusations of nepotism over the PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching, and son, Li Hongyi, and that he wants his father's house to remain standing to bolster his power.
"There are few specifics in their charges, but because their father is Mr Lee Kuan Yew, their accusations gain some credibility, and I have to take their charges seriously, which is why I am addressing them here in Parliament," said PM Lee.
Tackling each of these claims in turn, PM Lee reiterated that he had recused himself from all Government decisions relating to the house, and had no part in the decision to set up the committee, which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
"My siblings argue that even though I have recused myself, the Ministers are my subordinates and therefore, the Ministerial Committee cannot be independent from me. In fact, they say this of Parliament itself. This cannot be right," PM Lee noted.
"It is standard practice for the person facing a potential conflict of interest to recuse himself from the matter in this way... and let somebody else deal with it, it could be as his deputy, it could be some other senior colleague, it could be the rest of the Cabinet," he said.
He added: "Suppose instead that I had decided as PM to knock down the house, and had pushed that decision through without allowing the Government to consider the alternatives, weigh the considerations, and go through due process, just because it was what my father wanted.
"That would have been a real abuse of power. That would have gone against the whole system of rules and values that Mr Lee Kuan Yew spent his whole life upholding and building up."