MINISTERS TEO CHEE HEAN & SHANMUGAM JOIN THE LEE FAMILY FEUD
After yet another weekend of back and forth exchanges between the Lee family siblings, ministers from the People's Action Party's Cabinet have joined in the fray.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has become the first minister to issue a statement directly related to the facts of the legal wrangle between the Lee siblings. He has said that there was nothing “secret” about a committee formed to deliberate the preservation of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's 38 Oxley Road home. The names of the committee members have since been released to the public.
This was in response to accusations from the prime minister's younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, who said that the Prime Minister had formed a "secret" committee despite saying that he would recuse himself from all matters to do with 38 Oxley Road, and accused the committee of being set up purely to challenge the demolition of the house as expressed in LKY's will.
Following the release of Teo Chee Hean's statement, Lee Hsien Yang issued yet another statement expressing unhappiness that a committee of his eldest brother's subordinates was being allowed to preside over a matter that involved their direct superior, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He also took issue with Law Minister K Shanmugam being included in the committee. Lee Hsien Yang wrote that K Shanmugam, who had given advise to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the two siblings over the drafting of the demolition clause in his will, had a conflict of interest in presiding in the committee. He also wrote of how his complaints about this to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong had rejected his complaint about the committee's conflict of interests, writing "Nothing you have stated precludes any member of the Cabinet from taking part in the Committee's work or its deliberations, with the exception of the Prime Minister."
This was followed swiftly by a rebuttal from K Shanmugam, who said that his involvement in the committee was not a conflict of interest and challenged Lee Hsien Yang to write to him with a lawyer to get his response.
"I was already a Cabinet Minister when I spoke with some members of the Lee family — at their behest — and gave them my views. They were not my clients. Nothing that I said then precludes me from serving in this Committee," He wrote. "I am well aware of the rules of conflict, having been in practice for over 22 years. The suggestion that I am in conflict is ridiculous. If Mr Lee Hsien Yang seriously believes that I was in conflict, he can get a lawyer to write to me and I will respond."
K Shanmugan added that there are dozens of Cabinet Committees set up on a variety of matters. Some are permanent, some are temporary and that their composition is not public and they report to the Cabinet.