1. Singapore and Singaporeans can justifiably be proud of the hard-earned reputation and long track record of integrity of our Public Service. We are recognised for our record of integrity by Transparency International and by the World Economic Forum and IMD in their rankings on Global Competitiveness for the transparency and efficiency of our public institutions. This is a key pillar of Government that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and our pioneer leaders have built.
2. There is a misconception that Government is seeking to make a decision now. The Ministerial Committee does not decide. It is merely preparing drawer plans of various options and their implications so that a future Government can refer to them and make a considered and informed decision when the time comes to decide on the matter.
3. The Ministerial Committee has made clear to Mr Lee Hsien Yang and in particular to Dr Lee Wei Ling, that neither the Ministerial Committee nor Cabinet will be making any decision… It might be 20 to 30 years later before a decision needs to be made. However, if Dr Lee chooses to leave earlier, say within a few months, then Cabinet and Government will have to decide, and it would be useful to have studied the different options.
4. On 1 June 2016, at a Cabinet meeting which I chaired, Cabinet approved the proposal by the Minister for National Development to set up a Ministerial Committee to draw up the range of possible options for No. 38 Oxley Road… I had supported the Minister for National Development’s proposal as setting up such a Ministerial Committee would improve coordination and oversight on this matter.
5. This committee is like numerous other committees that Cabinet may set up from time to time to study specific issues…. We would rarely need to announce the formation of such committees, as they often relate to internal working processes and coordination within Government. There is nothing unusual about this. This is similar in approach to Cabinet Committees set up by many other governments. These committees ultimately report to Cabinet, which operates under the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility.
6. Indeed, if this were a secret Committee and they were not aware of its existence, how could they be making representations….We must then ask if Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling would be truthful and honest when they alleged that there is a “secret” committee which they did not know about, and which was acknowledged only after they “exposed its existence”. Just because Mr Lee Hsien Yang may have some questions that he found inconvenient to answer, that does not mean that the Committee was abusing its power or doing something wrong.
7. The latter, the redevelopment, would not only result in the loss of a historically significant property, but also allow this very history to be exploited for private profit, for example, by marketing the residences as “living at the former home of Mr Lee Kuan Yew”. I am certain many Singaporeans will not approve of this. Indeed, Mr Lee Hsien Yang has also acknowledged this, and on 1 July 2017, has said that he has no “inclination” to do so.
8. Mr Lee Hsien Yang also acknowledges that no decision is needed now as Dr Lee Wei Ling continues to live in the property. This is also the position of the Government. In his statement on 1 July, he also said that he also recognises that “no man stands above the law”… So there should really be no reason to disagree with studying the possible options for the time when a decision has to be made.