Lee Kuan Yew's estate applies to appeal against judge's decision

The children of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew want to appeal against a judge's decision that prevents them from submitting to court an account about how their father's interview transcripts ended up with the Government after his death.

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, in their role as executors of Mr Lee's estate, had applied to court last year to clarify an agreement their father had made with the Government over the control and use of the interviews he gave in the 1980s as prime minister.

As part of the case, they wanted to file an affidavit setting out a detailed account of how the transcripts came into the possession of the Cabinet Secretary after Mr Lee's death in March last year.

But High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang did not allow it, saying "the details were unnecessary and quite irrelevant" to the case.

Yesterday, the estate said it has filed an application in the High Court for permission to appeal against the decision.

In a statement, lawyers for the estate said it was also looking to reverse Justice Tay's decision "to seal or expunge certain affidavits, portions of affidavits, and other court documents, from the court file".

The judgment, issued last Wednesday, had set out the background facts surrounding the transcripts: According to an agreement between the late Mr Lee and the Government, the transcripts were to have been kept by the Cabinet Secretary. But they were found at 38, Oxley Road, Mr Lee's home, by a family member shortly after he died on March 23 last year.

Justice Tay had noted that there was no record of why the transcripts had been transferred to Mr Lee.

He also noted that sometime between March 23 and May 5 last year, a member of Mr Lee's family, thinking that the transcripts were official government documents, handed them to the Cabinet Secretary without the knowledge or consent of Mr Lee's estate.

The family member was not named in the judgment.

In setting out his decision not to allow a further affidavit on this matter, Justice Tay had said that the details "would only serve to distract from the real issues" which had to do with the interpretation of the agreement and whether the Official Secrets Act had any bearing on its interpretation.

He had ruled that the transcripts are politically sensitive and protected by the Official Secrets Act.

As such, the estate has the copyright to the transcripts, but not in the conventional sense that it is entitled to access, copy and use the transcripts, the judgment said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Lee Kuan Yew's estate applies to appeal against judge's decision'. Print Edition | Subscribe