Everything you need to know about DPM Teo’s parliament statement on the Oxley Road saga
He called for a period of calm and reflection.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean spoke on the Oxley Road saga in Parliament today (July 3), following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s opening ministerial statement on the issue.
He addressed in particular, the code of conduct for Ministers, the background and the work of the Ministerial Committee, its terms of reference and also next steps for the government.
Here is a summary of the points he made in his speech.
Code of conduct and upholding integrity for Ministers and the Public Service
Members of Parliament (MPs), and public officers have respective codes of conduct to adhere to in carrying out their duties.
Under the Code of Conduct for Ministers has been in force since 1954, Ministers were required to disclose their private interests, and should not influence or support issues in which they have a private interest. Ministers are also expected to be scrupulously above board and ensure no real or perceived conflict of interest between their official duties and private interests.
There are avenues for public officers to report suspected misconduct directly to their agency heads or permanent secretaries.
The Ministerial Committee was proposed by the Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and approved by Cabinet on June 1, 2016.
Its role was to study the options for the Oxley Road house, and improve the coordination of the due processes that take place for buildings and structures with heritage and historical value.
The Committee does not decide on the fate of house. Instead, it was formed only to study all possible options and their implications for the house, so that when the time comes, the government of the day can refer to the Committee’s work and make a considered and informed decision.
The Committee, comprises himself as chair, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu for heritage, Minister for Law K Shanmugam for land issues, and Wong for urban planning.
Terms of reference of the Committee
The Committee’s terms of reference are:
(i) the historical and heritage significance of the property,
(ii) the wishes of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in relation to the property, and
(iii) the possible plans for the property and the neighbourhood, and the options to move forward.
On Lee Hsien Yang’s allegations about the Committee
Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) seemed unhappy that the Committee had posed him questions which he might have found uncomfortable. Teo said, however, that the Committee’s interest was confined to obtaining a full picture as possible, and that it would have been a significant omission if all the Lee siblings’ views were not sought.
Both parties made representations to the Committee, and both sides were offered opportunities to respond if they wished.
It was not for the Committee to decide on the legal validity of the siblings’ claims and dissolving the Committee does not resolve the parties’ differences.
On meeting LHY six times between 2015 and 2016 before the Ministerial Committee was formed
He met LHY on a range of issues and also spoke about the possibilities for the Oxley Road property at one of their meetings. He also told LHY that he would personally not support the options at either of the range – full preservation or demolition.
Next steps for the Government on the house at 38 Oxley Road
The government is still studying the options for the house, and there is no urgency to complete the studies.
It will not do anything to affect Wei Ling’s right to continue living in the house, and that no decision was required of the present government on the property.
Noting that there were strong emotions on the issue within the Lee family and among Singaporeans, he called for a period of calm and reflection.
Top image from Teo Chee Hean’s Facebook.
More on the Lees and Oxley Road here: