LKY estate takes issue with AGC on ruling

AGC says judgment speaks for itself, so no need to correct inaccuracies on proceedings

The estate of Mr Lee Kuan Yew yesterday took issue with a statement by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on interviews Mr Lee gave in the early 1980s, after a court ruling on copyright to them.

But AGC said in reply to press queries: "The judgment speaks for itself and there should have been no necessity for the Attorney-General to repeatedly correct inaccuracies about Court proceedings."

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the executors of the late Mr Lee's estate, had last year applied to clarify an agreement their father had made over the control and use of the interviews.

Last week, the High Court ruled that the estate had a limited copyright to the transcripts - that is, only for the purpose of making sure the Government complies with the terms of the agreement Mr Lee had signed regarding the interviews, done when he was prime minister.

On Thursday, the estate welcomed the decision that it had the copyright, saying this "resolves a key point on which the Government disagreed with the estate".

But on Friday, the AGC clarified this claim, saying the Government "agreed that the estate does have a limited copyright" to the material.

Yesterday, Mr Lee's estate said their application sought a ruling "that all rights" given to him in the interview agreement vested in the estate, and "this clearly included the copyright", but "the Government resisted the application".

"Nowhere in the correspondence leading up to the proceedings, or the affidavits, or the documents filed for the proceedings, did the Government state that it agrees that copyright (whether in a limited form or otherwise) vested in the Estate," the estate added.

It said "the Government's concession" only appeared from its written submissions filed on July 7, one week prior to the hearing.

The AGC replied last night, saying: "The latest statement issued by the Estate of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is as unfortunate as the last.

"It is not true that the Government changed its position on the issue of copyright. The Government had always held that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew had a limited copyright to the transcripts during his lifetime, and thereafter for five years after his passing or up to 2000, whichever is the later. The agreement that the late Mr Lee and the Government signed makes this plain, and the Government has always honoured the agreement."

"The point of contention between the Estate and the Government was not copyright. Rather, the point of contention was the Estate's belief that it was entitled to free and unfettered access and use of the transcripts, which were produced as part of a Government project and protected by the Official Secrets Act," the AGC added.

"The Government believed this was never the intention of the late Mr Lee, and had to stand firm. The Court upheld the Government's position and consequently dismissed the Estate's application in full."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'LKY estate takes issue with AGC on ruling'. Print Edition | Subscribe