Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer, Kwa Kim Li, takes the stand in PM Lee's libel suit against TOC editor

Lawyer Lim Tean (left), who is representing TOC editor Terry Xu, briefly questioned Ms Kwa Kim Li.
Lawyer Lim Tean (left), who is representing TOC editor Terry Xu, briefly questioned Ms Kwa Kim Li.PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A trial for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's defamation lawsuit against The Online Citizen (TOC) editor Terry Xu concluded on Thursday (Dec 3) after Mr Xu's lawyer, Mr Lim Tean, briefly questioned Ms Kwa Kim Li, who prepared six wills for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Ms Kwa, a managing partner at the Lee and Lee law firm, is the niece of the late founding Prime Minister's wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo.

The parties were given four weeks to make written submissions to Justice Audrey Lim, who will deliver her judgment at a later date.

PM Lee is suing Mr Xu over claims he made in a TOC article published on Aug 15 last year. The allegedly defamatory statements in the article include an allegation first made by PM Lee's sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling.

Dr Lee had accused her brother of having misled their father into thinking that his 38 Oxley Road house had been gazetted by the Government, and that it was therefore futile for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to keep his direction to demolish it.

During the 40-minute hearing on Thursday, Mr Lim took Ms Kwa through a number of e-mails that Mr Xu had relied on to show that Mr Lee Kuan Yew did believe his house had been gazetted.

He asked Ms Kwa to confirm if a clause relating to the demolition of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's home had been included in the first four of the six wills she prepared for him, but not the last two. Ms Kwa confirmed this.

The demolition clause was removed in the fifth will Ms Kwa prepared, dated Oct 4, 2012, and was not reinstated in the sixth will, dated Nov 2, 2012.

However, it was later included in the late Mr Lee's seventh and final will on Dec 17, 2013, which Ms Kwa did not prepare.

Mr Lim also asked Ms Kwa to confirm that she had written several handwritten notes on copies of various e-mails and letters between her and members of the Lee family.

One such note said "Ling one share more", referring to Mr Lee Kuan Yew giving his daughter, Dr Lee, an extra share of the estate compared with her brothers in earlier versions of his will. The final will gave all three equal shares.

Another had the words "I can't find gazette. Told him", which Ms Kwa had written on a copy of an e-mail that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had sent to Ms Kwa and Dr Lee on Sept 6, 2012.

Ms Kwa told the court that she had indeed written the words and that the "him" in the note had referred to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

She also said that she had written "I can't find Oxley gazette" on a copy of an e-mail from the late Mr Lee to Ms Kwa, dated Oct 16, 2012.

Justice Lim asked Ms Kwa to confirm that both e-mails were referring to the results of her attempts to find a document showing that the Oxley Road house had been gazetted.

"That's correct," Ms Kwa replied.

She added that she could not remember how many times she had tried to find such a document, but that "it would be at least twice".


38 Oxley Road, the home of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. PHOTO: ST FILE

When Mr Lim asked if she had informed Mr Lee Kuan Yew of the outcome on each occasion after she did a search, Ms Kwa said the answer was privileged.

She gave the same response to several other questions Mr Lim asked, which were related to her attorney-client relationship with the late Mr Lee.

However, when she said this in response to Mr Lim's questions about two notes she had written which said "Loong has free rein" and "he can handle Cabinet", Justice Lim told her to answer them.

"I don't think it is privileged. This is what is written, so we would like a clarification as to who 'he' is," said the judge.

In response, Ms Kwa confirmed that she was referring to PM Lee. Mr Lim then moved on to other questions and did not pursue these points further.