29 June 2017
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Lee Hsien Yang says wife's firm did not draft will

Straits Times
17 Jun 2017
Charissa Yong

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will was not drafted by the law firm of his daughter-in-law Lee Suet Fern, said his younger son Lee Hsien Yang yesterday afternoon.

He added that his wife's firm, Stamford Law Corporation - now known as Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC - did not draft any of his father's wills.

"The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee&Lee," he said, referring to the sequence of events surrounding the final will. Ms Kwa is his cousin and managing partner at Lee&Lee, the firm his parents had co-founded.

But when contacted last night, Ms Kwa told The Straits Times: "I did not prepare the last will."

She declined to comment further.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had three posts on Facebook throughout the day in response to a statement issued the night before by his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on the dispute between the Lee siblings over their father's house at 38, Oxley Road.

In the statement issued through his lawyers, PM Lee had said their father's final will was made in troubling circumstances, and asked if there was a conflict of interest when Mrs Lee helped prepare it since her husband Lee Hsien Yang stood to gain from the removal of his sister Lee Wei Ling's extra share in the will.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said the will's seventh paragraph, in which his father stated he wanted his house to be demolished after his death, "was drafted at LKY's (Lee Kuan Yew's) direction".

It was "put into language by Lee Suet Fern, his daughter-in-law, and when he was satisfied, he asked Kim Li to insert it into his will", said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

He did not explain how this clause, drafted earlier for previous versions of the will but subsequently deleted, came to be reinstated in the final will.

His account was at odds with that given by PM Lee in his statutory declaration made to a ministerial committee. PM Lee has questioned why the clause was in the final will when it was not in the fifth and sixth will.

He also said he had "grave concerns" over the way in which the final will came to be made, and the role played by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.

PM Lee detailed the e-mail exchanges his brother and sister-in-law had with Mr Lee on the evening of Dec 16, 2013, and wondered at the haste with which they had moved to get changes made to the will, rather than waiting for these to be done by Ms Kwa, who had worked on the earlier wills.

He pointed to the possible conflict of interest of Mrs Lee's involvement in this process, when her husband stood to gain from the changes made.

PM Lee also asked why his sister-in-law said at the reading of the last will in April 2015 that the late Mr Lee asked her to prepare the will, but she got a lawyer from her law firm to do so instead as she did not want to get personally involved.

The lawyer was Mr Ng Joo Khin, who was present at the reading of the last will on April 12, 2015, after Mr Lee died.

PM Lee had asked who instructed Mr Ng on the last will. His brother Lee Hsien Yang replied: "The estate of LKY instructed Stamford Law to extract probate. Ng Joo Khin's role in that was to read the will to the beneficiaries." To extract probate is to have the will recognised as final and legally binding.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee are executors of their father's estate. He said in a Facebook post yesterday morning that he and his sister made similar points on Feb 28 this year to a ministerial committee set up to look into options for 38, Oxley Road.

"LHL's secret committee ignored it," he added.

In another Facebook post in the evening, he said that "this secret committee is entirely uninterested in exploring options for the house, instead focusing solely on challenging the validity of the demolition clause in LKY's will".

He said that "personal family disputes" were matters for the family courts, not a ministerial committee, and his father's wish to demolish the house was well-known.


NOT INVOLVED

I did not prepare the last will.

MS KWA KIM LI, managing partner of Lee&Lee, in response last night to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's statement that she had drafted the last will, and not the law firm of his wife.


We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences: Chok Tong

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, commenting on the Lee family dispute in a post on his MParader Facebook page last night:

"Singapore has prevailed through crises and adversity. We are a hardy people, built our family and nation from humble beginnings. What is happening in public between Lee Kuan Yew's children is not us and should not be allowed to define who we are. We are bigger than our troubles, stronger than our differences.

Whatever damage Singapore may suffer, wilfully inflicted or otherwise, I know Singaporeans will not lie meek. We will not be dragged down by a family's petty disputes. We will always look forward, to fight real battles and create a better future for ourselves and our children."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.