38 Oxley Road committee: Suggestion of conflict of interest 'ridiculous', Shanmugam says

38 Oxley Road committee: Suggestion of conflict of interest 'ridiculous', Shanmugam says

SINGAPORE: Law Minister K Shanmugam on Saturday (Jun 17) hit back the suggestion that his inclusion in the ministerial committee on 38 Oxley Road represented a conflict of interest, saying it was "ridiculous".

He was responding to a Facebook post by Mr Lee Hsien Yang, which said that the composition of the committee was "fundamentally flawed".

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

"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."

The committee was set up to consider the options for the late Lee Kuan Yew's house, which has been at the centre of a dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings.

PM Lee's younger brother, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, took issue with Mr Shanmugam's inclusion on the committee, saying that he was "an experienced Senior Counsel and Minister for Law who should well understand the problem of conflicts of interests."

In reply, Mr Shanmugam said: "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."