The allegations and responses

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking in Parliament on July 4, 2017.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking in Parliament on July 4, 2017. PHOTO: PARLIAMENT HOUSE OF SINGAPORE

Allegation: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made many contradictory statements in public and private. "Some must be lies. He seeks to play the filial son in public while acting to thwart our parents' wishes in private through improper means," they said.

Response: PM Lee has maintained that as a son, he wanted his father's wishes carried out.

But as Prime Minister, he has a responsibility towards the public to ensure that there was due process in considering what to do with the Oxley Road house, which has historical significance for Singapore. He has recused himself from all government decisions on the house.

Allegation: PM Lee misled Mr Lee Kuan Yew into believing that the house "was either already gazetted or would 'inevitably' be gazetted on his passing".

Response: PM Lee said he did not deceive his father. In Parliament, he showed notes that Mr Lee wrote to the Cabinet, to show that his father's thinking on the house had shifted over time. He also cited family e-mails which showed that his father signed off on redevelopment plans in the event that it is not demolished.

Allegation: Mr Lee's final will was a reversion to his 2011 will and made "on his explicit instructions".

Response: PM Lee has said the final will is not perfectly identical to the first will. He also raised concerns over the circumstances in which the final will - the seventh version - was prepared.

He asked what role Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, played and whether there was a conflict of interest if she was involved, as her husband stood to gain under the will.

Allegation: Ms Ho Ching, PM Lee's wife, improperly took Mr Lee's personal items from his house without permission. She "represented" the Prime Minister's Office to loan the items to the National Heritage Board (NHB).

Response: PM Lee said he thought the items were "significant and relevant", and so facilitated and arranged for his wife to pass the items to the Prime Minister's Office, which then sent them on to the NHB.

Allegation: PM Lee acquired the Deed of Gift made to the NHB in his official capacity as Prime Minister, but gave it to his personal lawyer for personal legal fights against his siblings.

Response: PM Lee would have been entitled to receive the Deed of Gift about the donation of the late Mr Lee's personal belongings, whether it was in his private or work capacity. As a beneficiary of the estate, he had a right to know what it was donating to the NHB.

In this case, PM Lee was handed the document in his capacity as Prime Minister as he had to be updated on a major exhibition on Singapore's founding fathers, where the items would be exhibited.

PM Lee said this should not stop him from confronting his siblings over the onerous and unreasonable terms they imposed on the gift of items: "If I come across anyone doing something wrong, even family, especially family, it is my duty to set them right."

Allegation: PM Lee agreed to a settlement agreement with Mr Lee's estate in which he sold the house to Mr Lee Hsien Yang and made a joint statement asking for their father's wish to be honoured. But he then "made extensive submissions to a secret ministerial committee to challenge" Mr Lee's final will. The committee revealed its members "only after being forced under public scrutiny".

Response: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who chairs the committee, said that it had asked all three siblings for their views on the house. He also said it was made clear that the committee was set up to study options for the house and would not be taking a decision on the matter, but would come up with "drawer plans" for a future government to refer to when the time comes. Several ministers also said that such committees were a "normal process" of government work.

Allegation: The secret ministerial committee had little interest in examining options for 38, Oxley Road. It parroted PM Lee's attacks on the final will.

Response: DPM Teo has said the committee only delved into the late Mr Lee's will because Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang relied on it as proof that their late father was uncompromising in wanting his house demolished.

PM Lee also said in his submissions to the committee that he had serious misgivings about the circumstances surrounding the drafting of the will.

The committee said its interest in the will is only limited to understanding the late Mr Lee's views on the house, and that it did not have the power to determine or question the validity of the will.

DPM Teo also said this was made clear to all three siblings from the start.

Allegation: PM Lee used a parliamentary debate "to whitewash himself". He has also not subjected himself to any independent inquiry on the matters.

Response: PM Lee has said Parliament is the right forum for the matter to be given a full airing, and other contentious issues had been addressed in Parliament in the past.

Before the debate, PM Lee asked for the People's Action Party Whip to be lifted and urged MPs from both sides of the House to question him robustly and thoroughly. He repeated this during his speech.

He also released his speeches as statements outside the House, thus waiving his right to parliamentary privilege which gives his words legal immunity. This means he can be sued for libel for what he said.

Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'The allegations and responses'. Print Edition | Subscribe