There was no basis to calls for a Select Committee or a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to look into the allegations of abuse of power arising from the Lee family feud, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament on Tuesday (4 July).
Speaking at the close of a two-day debate over the saga, PM Lee said that there were no specifics to the “headline charge of abuse” for him to heed the calls of Members of Parliament (MP) Pritam Singh, Louis Ng and Zaqy Mohamad, and Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin.
PM Lee asked, “What specifically did I do wrong? What was wrong with that?…Who was involved? When did it happen?”
The PM said it was the job of an MP to decide whether “something seems to be wrong” and confront the Government about it in Parliament. If doubts still remain after having heard the Government, they could then demand for a Select Committee or COI.
He added that even though his two accusers, younger sister Lee Wei Ling and younger brother Lee Hsien Yang, were not in Parliament, it should not stop MPs from talking to them or raising concerns on their behalf in Parliament.
“That is one reason why Parliamentary Privilege exists, so that MPs who heard allegations can make allegations in the House that are not completely proven and may be defamatory, without fear of being sued for defamation,” said PM Lee.
The issue of a Select Committee extended into clarifications, with the Workers’ Party (WP) chief and Aljunied GRC MP Low Thia Khiang asking the PM if he would still agree to such a Committee should the allegations continue.
In reply, PM Lee said that he would assess the allegations before considering his options, whether it be setting up a Select Committee or taking legal action.
For now, the PM said that none of the MPs stood behind the allegations or offered evidence to corroborate them in the past two days of parliamentary debate.
Said PM Lee, “Why do we need a Select Committee or COI, and drag this out for months? It’ll be another Korean drama full-scale serial. Should we set up Select Committees to investigate every unsubstantiated allegation, every wild rumour?”
On the first day of the debate, at least six Members of Parliament (MP) had suggested a Select Committee or COI, which would have the power to summon individuals who can be questioned in a public forum.
WP Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera said that a Select Committee would have its independence reinforced by the presence of opposition MPs while Kuik said that having an independent committee would hold the accusers accountable to their statements.
– additional reporting by Nicholas Yong and Hannah Teoh