ESM Goh tells Low Thia Khiang to move on, Low says sorry cannot
Or else it's just ownself defend ownself in parliament.
In otherwise long and dreary parliament session on July 4, there was an exchange between Workers’ Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong that brought some life to the debate on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ministerial statement in parliament refuting allegatons of abuse of power by his siblings.
ESM Goh had used the example of how he handled the Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) case to illustrate how a controversy in the past involving founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was resolved conclusively, and asked Low and other Members of Parliament (MPs) to “state their position clearly on PM’s and the Government’s integrity.”
Low responded in his trademark incisive and colourful way, comparing the parliamentary session as “ownself defend ownself” and went to push the point to clarify why PM Lee is not suing his siblings.
You can read the interesting exchange below.(We have highlighted the quotable quotes in bold):
Low Thia Khiang:
“Madam Speaker, the Workers’ Party has not gone through the due process to decide whether or not, to conclude whether the allegations made by the Lee siblings are baseless. We keep our minds open and are prepared to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. But we don’t know. And I speak for myself because I have not gone through that process. For me personally, I will not be convinced until the entire allegations are given a conclusive airing. We should know what else do they (the siblings) have.
I would like to clarify on ESM’s speech, he cited the example on the HPL case. I was in this house then. Yes, I was convinced. Why was I convinced? And why is this case different from the HPL case?
Firstly Madam, in the HPL case, it was a market rumour, I was unaware of any allegations of corruption or wrongdoing. Secondly, the person at the centre of the issue, Mr. Ong Beng Seng, issued a public statement, explaining the matter to clear the air before the parliament sitting. Thirdly, the subject person Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, both father and son were not the Prime Minister, not the head of government at that time. It was the then Prime Minister Mr. Goh Chok Tong who called for an investigation based on a market rumour, and came to parliament for a public explanation and the debate.
But for this parliament session, it is the Prime Minister, the head of the government and the Secretary-General of the PAP accused of wrongdoing. This episode, there are no investigations done, it’s ownself defend ownself in parliament with the PAP MPs. I mean I wonder how you would want to convince me and my party and Singaporeans that it is conclusive, and it is something that we can all be convinced entirely. Though I said I am prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the Prime Minister.
Madam, I understand the Prime Minister’s difficulty in, I mean, sueing your own siblings. And he is worried that he will further damage his parents’ name. [Sigh] But I mean I hope he would clarify the doubts I have this question, this nagging question that why he didn’t sue.
First, does he not agree that his family is not any ordinary Singapore family. And the person at the centre of the issue is the Prime Minister of Singapore, not any other person.”
Speaker Halimah Yacob:
“Mr Low, I have given a lot of laxity but clarifications are not a speech…Can you specify the clarifications you wish to make?”
Low Thia Khiang:
“I am seeking clarifications arising from ESM’s (speech) because he wanted me to state my position and citing the HPL case, saying why going to court, you know should not go to court, so I believe I am clarifying.
(Speaker Halimah Yacob: Please proceed)
Madam, secondly, I wonder whether the Prime Minister is not worried that the PAP as the ruling party, would be seen as (practicing) double standards. Has he forgotten, the former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is now ESM, sue the Workers’ Party candidate Tang Liang Hong during General Election 1997, for just making a police report.
But now these are allegations that are much more serious than that. And more importantly, we are talking about upholding the legacy of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, that the nation, the laws above the family and individuals. By using family, does this not also show that blood is thicker than water. Own siblings, cannot sue. After all, we are all brothers and sisters. But political opponents and critics, sue until your pants drop. I cannot square this, Madam speaker, with all these arguments. Sorry.”
ESM Goh Chok Tong:
“I will be very brief. The response by Low Thia Khiang is not unexpected. I expected that, this is what we call political sophistry.
And as for Tang Liang Hong. He is not my brother.”
Top photo from YouTube