In his ministerial statement to parliament today, PM Lee addressed concerns that he had abused his power over his handling of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s 38 Oxley Road house.
In response to his siblings’ accusations that he was using the government and the Cabinet committee on 38 Oxley Road to get his way with the house, Mr Lee replied that he “had nothing to do with the decision to set up the Ministerial Committee”, adding that he does not give instructions to the Ministerial Committee or its members.
“My only dealing with the Committee has been to respond to their requests in writing by formal correspondence, no different from my siblings’ dealings with the Committee.”
He slammed criticism that having a committee composed of subordinates constituted a conflict of interest, stating that it was a “standard practice” for the party with a vested interest to recuse himself from all dealings.
If he had wanted to abuse his powers, PM Lee said, he would have forced the government to allow the demolition of his father’s house.
On the charges that he had improperly obtained the Deed of Gift between the Lee Kuan Yew Estate and the National Heritage Board over the gift of artefacts from 38 Oxley Road, he clarified that as he was also a part of the Lee Kuan Yew Estate, he was entitled to be informed about the gift of his father’s estate. However, he was not informed by any of siblings about the Deed of Gift and only learned of the gift through Minister Lawrence Wong, who told him that there was a June 2015 SG50 exhibition on the founding leaders of Singapore.
When PM Lee heard about the “onerous and unreasonable” conditions placed on the National Heritage Board in exchange for the gift of artefacts, PM Lee said he immediately sought to set his siblings right about their demands.
“After reading the deed, I became very concerned over what NHB had agreed to,” PM Lee said. “The terms were onerous and unreasonable.”
He cited the term that whenever NHB displayed the items, it had to display them with the first half of the Demolition Clause, but not the second.
PM Lee also said that while these were described as “gifts”, his siblings had set conditions that if the terms of the deed were breached, they could immediately take back all items for S$1.
“Therefore, this was not a gift at all. They had misled the public,” he said.