SINGAPORE — Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s latest statement was a “selective and inaccurate account” of his exchanges with the 38 Oxley Road ministerial committee, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s press secretary said on Sunday evening (July 2).
In his Facebook post earlier, Mr Lee said the committee was “neither transparent nor proper” and accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of using it to bypass the court system.
The younger Mr Lee also said the PM’s subordinates “cannot be the judge of a matter in which (PM Lee) has a direct personal interest”.
In response, Mr Teo’s press secretary Lee May Lin said the ministerial committee, chaired by Mr Teo, had sought Mr Lee and his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling’s views last July on their father’s wishes and thinking in respect of their family house.
She released letters dated July 27 and Aug 24 in which she said the committee “had made clear” to the two siblings the “purpose and scope” of its work.
This included why the committee was formed, who it reported to, namely the Cabinet, what it would look into and why Mr Lee’s input would be useful.
She said: “The Committee told him clearly that: (1) It was listing the various options for the House, to present to Cabinet; (2) the Committee was not going to make any recommendations; (3) the Government had no intention of making any decision on the House, as long as (Dr Lee) resides there.”
She added that Mr Lee had acknowledged this in one of his subsequent replies, so “it was clear to all parties involved that the Government was not making an immediate decision on the house, and that no decision may be necessary for another 20 to 30 years.”
Her statement reiterated that the committee is powerless to decide on the validity of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s last will and that it is a “matter between (Mr Lee Hsien Yang) and (PM Lee)”.
Ms Lee said the circumstances of the last will became relevant because of one part that Mr Lee was relying on as the primary evidence of his father’s intent for the house.
“He wanted the committee to focus on … the clause relating to Mr Lee’s wishes on the House, and not its other part,” she said.
The second part referred to the late Mr Lee’s instructions to his children should any changes in the laws prevent them from fulfilling his wish of having the house demolished, namely that it never be opened to others except his children, their families and descendants.
Both the Lee brothers’ views were sought with regard to the circumstances relating to the drafting of the last will, said Ms Teo’s press secretary.
“Just because Mr Lee Hsien Yang found some questions inconvenient to answer, that does not mean that the Committee abused its power or did wrong,” she said.
Mr Teo will provide a fuller explanation in Parliament on Monday, when he and PM Lee will issue ministerial statements on the dispute.