AGC: Lee Suet Fern's case referred to Law Society in accordance with law

The AGC said there will be a full hearing before the disciplinary tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice, and Mrs Lee Suet Fern can present her case there.
The AGC said there will be a full hearing before the disciplinary tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice, and Mrs Lee Suet Fern can present her case there. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said yesterday it acted according to the law in referring a case of possible professional misconduct by Mrs Lee Suet Fern to the Law Society.

Its statement was in response to media queries on a Facebook post Mrs Lee's husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, made on Monday evening when he questioned the AGC's move.

The AGC also said its actions are consistent with how it has handled other cases of alleged professional misconduct by lawyers.

Last year, it referred five cases to the Law Society, the AGC told The Straits Times.

In the case involving Mrs Lee, the AGC said on Monday that she appears to have prepared the last will of her father-in-law, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, and arranged for him to execute it in 2013.

It added that this placed her in a position of conflict and was a breach of the rules governing the conduct of lawyers because her husband was a beneficiary in the will.

In a Facebook post the same evening, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said his wife was never the late Mr Lee's lawyer and questioned the timing of the AGC's decision and the public interest being served.

 
 
 

"What public interest is being served by AGC here? Why waste public resources on a private matter, and after all this time?" he said.

"Why is AGC rushing this case in 2019 when the facts were known by all parties for years?"

Together with his sister Lee Wei Ling, Mr Lee Hsien Yang is feuding with his older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over the fate of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.

In June 2017, PM Lee released an edited summary of his statutory declaration made to a ministerial committee looking into options for the house. In it, he said their late father made six wills before his last will in December 2013, and all six were prepared by lawyer Kwa Kim Li.

PM Lee questioned the role Mrs Lee Suet Fern played in the preparation of the seventh and last will, listing a series of e-mails in which Mr Lee Hsien Yang said he could not get in touch with Ms Kwa, and suggested that lawyers from his wife's firm could prepare the new will instead.

The late Mr Lee agreed to this suggestion, and lawyers from Mrs Lee's law firm procured his signature on the last will.

The younger Mr Lee had said lawyers from his wife's firm did not draft the last will but that it was done by Ms Kwa. But Ms Kwa has denied drafting it.

In Monday's Facebook post, Mr Lee Hsien Yang also said the AGC's assertion that his wife had refused to respond to it was untrue, and called on the AGC to release its full correspondence with his wife.

The AGC, in its response yesterday, said there will be a full hearing before the disciplinary tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice, and Mrs Lee can present her case there.

It added that it does not propose to comment further on the merits of the matter and reminded "all parties to be mindful not to prejudice the proper hearing of the matter".

On the five cases referred to the Law Society last year, the AGC said all of them involved direct referrals to the disciplinary tribunal.

It also said it had made referrals to the society for a wide range of misconduct by lawyers. This includes acting in conflict of interest, wasting the court's time and misleading the court, scandalous cross-examination and witness coaching.

In 2015, for example, the AGC wrote to the Law Society that lawyer S.K. Kumar had acted without his client's authority, failed to use his best endeavours to complete work for his client as soon as possible, wasted the court's time and misled the court in a number of his cases. He was fined $25,000 and disbarred.

In 2016, the AGC filed a disciplinary complaint against lawyer Edmund Wong, who focused on the breast size of a molestation victim in his cross-examination. Last year, Mr Wong was handed a five-year suspension by the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'AGC: Lee Suet Fern's case referred to Law Society in accordance with law'. Print Edition | Subscribe