SINGAPORE - A special select committee of Parliament, comprising members from all parties, should be set up to investigate the allegations of abuse of power that have been made against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by his siblings.
This was a suggestion made by several MPs on Monday (July 3) as one possible way to solve the ongoing dispute over the fate of the 38, Oxley Road house of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) was one of the MPs who made this suggestion, pointing out that a parliamentary debate on the matter was unlikely to "put the matter to rest".
He was responding to ministerial statements made by PM Lee and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament. PM Lee had earlier made a statement addressing allegations of abuse of power made against him by his siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling.
Mr Singh contrasted the Oxley Road debate in Parliament to another occasion in 1996 when Parliament spent three days debating the sale of a condo unit at Nassim Jade and at Scotts 28 by developer Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) at discounted rates to then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
HPL told the press the two leaders had not asked for any discounts.
Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that while he did not doubt the two ministers' integrity, he had to protect the integrity of the Government. Mr Goh ordered an investigation and even questioned Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong. He was satisfied that there was no impropriety.
The parliamentary debate on the case had shone light on the issue and showed there was no wrongdoing.
"In the matter before us today, can we honestly say that we are apprised and fully aware of the evidence and facts relevant to the allegations of the Prime Minister abusing his power so as to come to the same conclusion?" asked Mr Singh.
Mr Singh suggested forming a special select committee of Parliament to tackle the issue instead, since PM Lee had earlier indicated he would prefer not to take the legal route.
"Its remit would simply be to look into the truthfulness of the allegations and get to the bottom of the matter. In light of evidence being made available to it, the committee can be expected to summon, if it so chooses, the PM, Madam Ho Ching, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, and anyone else to shed light on the allegations," he said.
Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin also suggested forming a committee of inquiry with the "full authority to investigate the accusations".
"If investigations reveal there is truth and substance to the allegations, wrongs must be made right. It is presently hard to ask more questions because so far details are vague and the people who can supply more detailed evidence to these questions are not in this room," she said.
Mr Singh said the allegations of abuse of power need to be adequately addressed to be put to rest. "The longer this sad episode drags on, Singapore's reputation as a country where the rule of law is a strict guiding principle of our society and the credibility of government will be cast in very serious doubt."