K Shanmugam: Claim of conflict of interest by being in Ministerial Committee is “ridiculous”

He in essence said the government has better things to do than entertain the Lees' 'baseless' and 'endless' accusations.

By Jeanette Tan | June 17, 2017

Things in Singapore sure move quickly.

Hot on the heels of being dragged into the conflict between PM Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings over what to do with number 38, Oxley Road, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam has emerged to defend his position in the Ministerial Committee.

This detail, once again, emerged only on Saturday afternoon, when DPM Teo Chee Hean said in a statement that he was the one, not PM Lee, who set up the Ministerial Committee to discuss the matter of what should happen to the house.

In his statement, DPM Teo revealed the members of what till Saturday the younger Lee siblings described as a “secret” committee: himself, K Shanmugam, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

Responding to that, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling both questioned K Shanmugam’s inclusion into the committee, explaining that he was consulted quite extensively on the process of the will-drafting for their dad. For that reason, they argued, he should not be on the committee because of potential conflict.

And now, roughly one and a half hours later, Minister Shanmugam posted a pretty sharp response on his Facebook page. We’ll go over that now.

Here are the key takeaways from his Facebook post:

1) The composition of Ministerial Committees are not made public

Transparency or what have you aside, K Shanmugam said there are dozens of ministerial committees set up for various different issues and matters. Some of these are permanent, some are temporary, and all of these ministerial committees report to Singapore’s Cabinet.

2) He spoke to the Lees as a cabinet minister, and was not advising them as clients

He added this:

“Nothing that I said then precludes me from serving in this Committee.”

Additionally, he also challenged Lee Hsien Yang to ask his lawyers to write to him if he “seriously believes that I was in conflict”.

You can read it in full here:

“Cabinet Committee

Mr Lee Hsien Yang has questioned my being in the Committee chaired by DPM Teo.

There are dozens of Cabinet Committees set up on a variety of matters. Some are permanent, some are temporary.
Their composition is not public and they report to the Cabinet.

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.

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.

I am sure most Singaporeans are sick and tired about these endless allegations, which are quite baseless.

The government has serious business to attend to relating to the welfare of Singaporeans.”

Dun dun dun. Of course, as always, there will be more soon.

Need to get up to speed on the saga happening on 38 Oxley Road? Click the banner below:

Top file photo of K Shanmugam by Ng Yi Shu

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About Jeanette Tan

Jeanette takes pride in her ability to sing the complete lyrics to Hakuna Matata and a host of other Disney songs. She holds out hope to someday be talent-spotted to do voice-overs for documentaries, lifts and automated telephone answering systems.

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