Disciplinary Tribunal on Lee Suet Fern

Lee Hsien Yang: Statements were not sworn ones, so need not be accurate

The Disciplinary Tribunal looking at misconduct on the part of Mrs Lee Suet Fern, wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang (both above), says in its report that the latter lied to the public about how Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will was drafted.
The Disciplinary Tribunal looking at misconduct on the part of Mrs Lee Suet Fern, wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang (both above), says in its report that the latter lied to the public about how Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will was drafted.BT FILE PHOTO

Statements he made need not be accurate because they were not sworn ones, said Mr Lee Hsien Yang, when asked why his statements on Facebook and in public were at odds with his testimony.

The Disciplinary Tribunal looking at misconduct on the part of his wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, said in its report that Mr Lee lied to the public about how the last will for Mr Lee Kuan Yew was drafted and that he admitted some of his statements were inaccurate.

"He said his public statements could be inaccurate because they are not sworn statements and thus he may not look at them carefully," said the tribunal.

Mrs Lee adopted in her defence what her husband had said publicly, which was inaccurate.

The tribunal cited Mr Lee Hsien Yang's Facebook posts over two periods in 2017 and in April 2019.

These posts gave the impression that Ms Kwa Kim Li had prepared the last will, and Mrs Lee Suet Fern had no role.

None of these posts mentioned Mrs Lee's involvement in the last will and instead said Ms Kwa was the lawyer of the last will.

Mr Lee admitted in cross-examination that aspects of the posts could be misleading and inaccurate.

"These assertions are in fact untrue and dishonest," said the tribunal.

Both Mr Lee and Mrs Lee had said on oath that Ms Kwa was Mr Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer and had drafted the last will.

"Mr Lee Hsien Yang compounded his dishonesty by accusing Ms Kwa of lying, in public, when Ms Kwa said she had not drafted the last will.

EXTRACT FROM TRIBUNAL REPORT: 'OPTIONAL EXPLANATIONS'

"They both drew distinctions between statements to the MC (ministerial committee) on the one hand, and court documents on the other, and in the case of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, he went further and made a distinction with IPO documents. They said that different standards of care and precision apply between these two, because the former are merely in the nature of 'optional explanations'."

EXTRACT FROM TRIBUNAL REPORT: 'SURPRISING STATEMENT'

"This was said by reference to both public and private statements made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang. In plain language, the effect of what they said is this: Mr Lee Hsien Yang may make untrue statements, in public and in private, whenever there is no legal penalty for telling untruths; his public and private statements cannot be relied upon to be accurate. This is a surprising statement."

"This was quite cynical conduct, he knew that Ms Kwa was telling the truth."

The tribunal also took issue with distinctions that the couple drew between statements made to the ministerial committee on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road on the one hand, and court documents on the other.

"They said that different standards of care and precision apply between the two because the former are merely in the nature of 'optional explanations'."

They said this by referring to both public and private statements made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

"In plain language, the effect of what they said is this: Mr Lee Hsien Yang may make untrue statements, in public and private, whenever there is no legal penalty for telling untruths; his public and private statements cannot be relied upon to be accurate.

"This is a surprising statement," said the tribunal.

Separately, both Mrs Lee and her husband also sought to suppress relevant evidence from coming to the tribunal.

Lawyer Bernard Lui, who had attended to the last will and signed as a witness to the same, had produced documents annexed to his affidavit and put in evidence in July last year.

Mrs Lee suppressed the documents, which would have exposed her untruths, said the tribunal.

"As a solicitor of 37 years' standing, it was inexcusable for her to have not disclosed the Bernard Lui documents," it said.

She breached her legal duty to disclose them and also falsely stated she had disclosed all relevant documents when she deliberately held back the documents of Mr Lui, it added.

 
 
 

Mrs Lee also knew her husband was selectively relying on parts of these documents - the attendance note of lawyer Elizabeth Kong - in public, while suppressing other parts that were damaging to her.

 

Ms Kong's attendance note showed what transpired when Mr Lee Kuan Yew signed the last will, and her e-mail exchange with Mrs Lee, which recounted the late Mr Lee's queries on who drafted the last will.

Mrs Lee had shared the attendance note with the executors of the last will, to be used for their response to the ministerial committee.

These e-mails, which were among the documents from Mr Lui, were not in evidence in Mrs Lee's filed affidavit.

In her affidavit, she had said that the executors did not seek any input from her on their representations to the ministerial committee.

Mr Lui's documents contradicted her affidavit, and she gave untruthful answers which were exposed when Mr Lui gave evidence, said the tribunal.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 23, 2020, with the headline 'Lee Hsien Yang: Statements were not sworn ones, so need not be accurate'. Print Edition | Subscribe