SINGAPORE - Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah on Saturday (June 24) called on Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to identify the lawyer who drafted the final will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
She said his June 17 Facebook post had indicated that he knew who had prepared the will, when he twice mentioned “we” in reference to his dealings over the will.
Ms Indranee asked in a lengthy Facebook post if the “we” referred to Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife, lawyer Lee Suet Fern.
PM Lee has raised serious misgivings about the circumstances surrounding the will, including over the role played by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.
Ms Indranee noted that there have been conflicting accounts of who drafted the will, in her second post on the Lee family row over the Oxley Road house. In the first post last Friday, she highlighted four issues about the dispute, including what the late Mr Lee’s will said about demolition of the house and why this was an issue of public interest.
On Saturday, her focus was on the will. She said Mr Lee Hsien Yang has insisted that Ms Kwa Kim Li from Lee & Lee had drafted it. But the lawyer, who prepared the first six wills, has denied having a part in the final document.
He also said his wife and her law firm Stamford Law, now Morgan Lewis Stamford, did not prepare the will.
But PM Lee recounted in a statutory declaration that his sister-in-law said she had got lawyer Ng Joo Khin from her law firm to handle it, which Mr Ng has not refuted, said Ms Indranee.
Calling on Mr Lee Hsien Yang to shed light on the matter, she said it raises questions on whether the late Mr Lee had received independent advice.
“Under our law, the lawyer drafting a will is required to be independent. If the lawyer has an interest in the will, the lawyer must make sure the person making the will gets independent advice,” she added.
The late Mr Lee made seven wills between August 2011 and December 2013, changing some of the terms over the years.
He had left a larger share of his estate to his daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, in the sixth will, but in the seventh will, all three of his children got an equal share.
This means Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased, said Ms Indranee, adding: “As Mrs Lee Suet Fern is his wife, if she prepared the seventh will, then the question which will arise is what independent advice (Mr Lee Kuan Yew) received?”
The Senior Minister of State also dealt with why the late Mr Lee’s will was relevant, from the Government’s perspective.
A ministerial committee set up by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to consider options for the late Mr Lee’s house at 38, Oxley Road had asked PM Lee’s two younger siblings questions about the will.
Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang saw this as harassment from state organs.
Ms Indranee, reiterating DPM Teo’s earlier explanation on the matter, said the committee’s interest in the will was confined to trying to understand the late Mr Lee’s thinking on the house.
She said a demolition clause, which was in the final will, had been in the first to fourth wills, but was removed in the fifth and sixth wills. “So Mr Lee had changed his mind once. The question is whether he changed it a second time?” she said. “Or whether the Demolition Clause was inserted without his awareness?”
Ms Indranee said e-mail correspondence that PM Lee had mentioned in his statutory declaration indicated that the last will was prepared in less than a day, between the evening of Dec 16, 2013 and the morning of Dec 17, 2013.
She added that the two lawyers from Stamford Law who witnessed Mr Lee’s signing of the will had been at his house for only 15 minutes.
Including the time taken to get to his room and leave the house, this would mean he had only five minutes to read and sign the will, she said, asking if he would have had enough time to absorb the contents and see that the demolition clause had been reinserted.
She also said the e-mails from Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife to the late Mr Lee did not mention the clause.
Responding on Facebook later on Saturday night, Mr Lee Hsien Yang sidestepped the question about who drafted the will.
But he charged that PM Lee “is now getting his ministers to repeat his insinuations that Lee Kuan Yew did not understand his own will”.
He added: “Probate has been granted on Lee Kuan Yew’s will, so it is final and legally binding. The proper place for Lee Hsien Loong to challenge his father’s will was in court.”
He added: “They argue that Lee Kuan Yew, a Cambridge-educated lawyer and sitting MP, signed his own will without knowing what was in it. They claim that he initialled beneath the demolition clause, without understanding what it meant in plain English. This is an insult to a great man.”