Friday, 16 June 2017

Was Lee Kuan Yew rushed into signing his last will?

• PM Lee Hsien Loong releases summary of statutory declarations to ministerial committee looking into options for Oxley Road house

• PM Lee questions the role of brother Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern in making of final will

• Clause to demolish 38 Oxley Road house re-appeared in Lee Kuan Yew's final and seventh will having previously been removed from his fifth and sixth wills

• Lee Wei Ling's extra share of father's estate removed in final will

• Lee Wei Ling, Lee Hsien Yang threatened to air dispute during 2015 General Election

• PM Lee agreed to sell Oxley house to resolve dispute

• 'Nothing secret' about ministerial committee on Oxley Road home: Committee chair DPM Teo Chee Hean

• Lee Hsien Yang unhappy over delay and uncertainty in demolishing Oxley Road House: Goh Chok Tong

• Singaporeans 'sick and tired of endless' Oxley Road allegations: Shanmugam

• Lee Hsien Yang says wife's firm did not draft Lee Kuan Yew's final will

• Lawyer Kwa Kim Li says she did not prepare Lee Kuan Yew's last will, so who did?

PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for dispute with siblings, will deliver ministerial statement in Parliament on 3 July 2017

• Lee Kuan Yew's final will 'accepts' Oxley house demolition may not take place, says Indranee Rajah

• Identify lawyer who drafted Mr Lee's final will: Indranee





PM Lee Hsien Loong details 'deeply troubling' way Lee Kuan Yew's will was made
He says last will prepared in haste with help of Hsien Yang's wife, conflict of interest an issue
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday raised serious questions about the way his father Lee Kuan Yew's last will was made, and whether there was a conflict of interest when his sister-in-law Lee Suet Fern helped prepare the will.

In a statement issued by his lawyers at Drew and Napier last night, PM Lee set out in detail the "deeply troubling circumstances" surrounding the seventh and final version of the will, and said he has "grave concerns" about whether the late Mr Lee was "properly and independently advised" on its contents before he signed it.

PM Lee's five-page statement, which he later uploaded on Facebook, raised a notch the long-running dispute with his younger siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, over whether to demolish their father's house at 38, Oxley Road. In it, PM Lee also questioned if Mr Lee knew that a clause to demolish the house was reintroduced in the last will. He noted that this demolition clause first appeared in his father's first will dated Aug 20, 2011.

It was removed in the fifth and sixth versions of the will, but "somehow found its way back into the last will", he noted.

The dispute spilt into the public sphere on Wednesday, when PM Lee's siblings released a statement saying they had lost confidence in him and feared the use of state organs against them.

The two siblings alleged that PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching wanted the house preserved for their own political gain, and said their brother had abused his power by making extensive representations to a ministerial committee, raising questions over the last will.



Last night, PM Lee refuted his siblings' claims that he had motives for raising questions about the will in a statutory declaration to the ministerial committee. Noting that his siblings continued to make allegations, he said: "This makes it untenable for me not to respond publicly to the allegations and to explain why I have serious questions about how my father's last will was prepared."

PM Lee said the family dispute first arose when the last will was read on April 12, 2015. Mr Lee Hsien Yang had repeatedly insisted on demolishing the house immediately, and the discussion ended only when Dr Lee said she wished to continue living in the house.

PM Lee recounted that during the reading, Mrs Lee Suet Fern volunteered that Mr Lee had asked her to prepare the last will, but she got a lawyer from her law firm, Stamford Law Corporation, to do so instead as she did not want to get personally involved.

PM Lee later learnt that Mrs Lee had e-mailed Mr Lee on Dec 16, 2013, about the seventh will, which would give the three children an equal share of the estate. The sixth will had given Dr Lee an extra share.

PM Lee said Mrs Lee helped prepare the new will in haste that same evening, and sent two lawyers to 38, Oxley Road on Dec 17 for Mr Lee to sign it.

He noted the two lawyers were at the house for 15 minutes. "They plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the last will and not to advise him," he said.

There is no evidence Mr Lee even knew the demolition clause was re-inserted into the last will, PM Lee said. He also expressed concern about Mrs Lee's involvement in the preparation and signing of the last will, when her husband stood to gain from the removal of Dr Lee's extra share in the last will.

As to why he had not challenged the validity of the last will in court, PM Lee said he had hoped to avoid a public fight which would tarnish the name and reputation of Mr Lee and the family.

His siblings hit back at his statement via multiple Facebook posts last night. Mr Lee Hsien Yang reiterated that the will is final and binding, and said: "Hsien Loong should not use a committee of his subordinates to allege what he did not dare to allege in court."

But PM Lee said questions had to be asked about the circumstances surrounding the last will. "I believe it is necessary to go beyond the last will in order to establish what Mr Lee Kuan Yew's thinking and wishes were in relation to the house."












PM Lee Hsien Loong questions the role of brother, wife in making of final will
Document differed markedly from its previous version, which did not have a clause on demolition of Oxley Road house
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised questions about the role of his brother Hsien Yang and sister-in-law, lawyer Lee Suet Fern, in preparing the seventh and final version of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will, in a lengthy statement issued by his lawyers on Thursday (June 15) night.

The document differed markedly from its previous version, in that it gave equal shares of their father's estate to all three of his children.

This was a reversal of a decision that the late Mr Lee had made in his second-last will, in which Dr Lee Wei Ling, his only daughter, was given an extra share of the estate.

The other key difference was the inclusion of a clause stating that the late Mr Lee wanted his house at 38, Oxley Road demolished after his death.

The clause had been in the first, second, third and fourth wills, but was not in the fifth and sixth ones.

In his statement, PM Lee quoted e-mails exchanged by his family members, and recounted the series of events that "led him to be very troubled by the circumstances surrounding the last will".

He also disclosed his sister Wei Ling once held "grave suspicions" that the removal of her extra share of the estate was "instigated" by her brother Hsien Yang and his wife.

PM Lee said his father changed his mind on giving Wei Ling an extra share after discussions with Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.

Unlike all the previous wills, the final one was not prepared by their cousin, Ms Kwa Kim Li, a lawyer at Lee & Lee, the firm co-founded by the late Mr Lee and his wife Kwa Geok Choo.

Instead, it had been prepared by lawyers from Mrs Lee's law firm.

This happened after Ms Kwa was removed from an email list regarding the last will on Dec 16, 2013, by Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

He told his father he could not get in touch with Ms Kwa and believed she was away.

He also said he thought it was not wise to wait for her to return and suggested having lawyers from his wife's law firm, including a partner of the firm, prepare the will and witness the signing.

On Thursday (June 15), PM Lee questioned the decision, saying that it was unclear what efforts his brother had made to get in touch with Ms Kwa.

Ms Kwa had also said to Mrs Lee that she did not receive an email sent by her immediately before being removed by her husband from the email chain.

PM Lee said it was not clear why his brother thought there was an urgency to the signing of the last will.

"It is however interesting that he suggested that his wife, clearly an interested party, and her partners would prepare the new will," he said.

He also cited emails showing that in the space of 41 minutes at night, Mrs Lee had seen to the preparation of the new will and had one of her colleagues to be on standby to get it signed by the late Mr Lee.

The next morning, he signed the final will in the presence of two lawyers from Mrs Lee's law firm, then called Stamford Law Corporation. It is now known as now Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC.



PM Lee noted that the two lawyers, Mr Bernard Lui and Ms Elizabeth Kong, were present at his father's house for "15 minutes only, including the time for logging into and out from the property".

"They plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the last will and not to advise him," he said.

Neither he nor his sister were copied in the emails on the last will.

PM Lee also questioned the re-insertion of the demolition clause into the final will, when the change the late Mr Lee had wanted only concerned the share of the house which Dr Lee was to get.

He also recounted how he went to look up old family emails, after he and his brother disagreed over whether the house should be immediately demolished during the reading of the last will.

At PM Lee's request, his brother forwarded him copies of other emails which had nothing to do with the last will.

But PM Lee said his brother "cut out and did not send me the incriminating exchanges in the email chain that followed".

These deleted parts showed Mr Lee Hsien Yang's and his wife's involvement in the making of the last will in December 2013.

PM Lee said that he continued to have grave concerns about the events surrounding the last will.

He also said he was not aware of any facts that suggested his father was informed or advised about all the changes that were made when he signed the last will.

"In fact, there is no evidence that Mr Lee even knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into the last will," added PM Lee.

In his statement, he listed a series of questions he had, including whether his father gave specific instructions to re-insert the demolition clause in the last will, and if so to whom.

He also asked about what role Mrs Lee played in the preparation and signing of the last will, and whether she, her fellow lawyers, and her law firm had a conflict of interest.

Said PM Lee: "Without proper and complete answers to these questions, the serious doubts about whether Mr Lee was properly and independently advised on the contents of the last will before he signed it cannot be cleared."












Lawyer Kwa Kim Li says she did not prepare Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 17 Jun 2017

The question of who prepared the last will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew took a new turn late on Friday night (June 16) when lawyer Kwa Kim Li denied that she had a role in it.

Ms Kwa, the managing partner of the Lee&Lee law firm, had prepared the previous six versions of the will of the late Mr Lee who died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 91.

When contacted on Friday night, Ms Kwa, who is currently overseas, told The Straits Times: "I did not prepare the last will."

She declined to comment further.

Her statement contradicts an earlier one made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who is her cousin and the younger son of the late Mr Lee.



Mr Lee Hsien Yang made three posts on Facebook throughout the course of Friday in which he responded to a statement issued the night before by his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on the dispute between the siblings over their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.

In the statement issued on Thursday night through his lawyers, PM Lee said that the late Mr Lee's final will was made in "very troubling circumstances".

PM Lee raised the question of whether there was a conflict of interest when Mrs Lee Suet Fern - Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife - helped prepare the final will since her husband stood to gain from the removal of his sister Lee Wei Ling's extra share of the estate in the will.

But Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post that his wife's firm, Stamford Law Corporation - now known as Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC - did not draft any of the late Mr Lee's wills.

"The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee&Lee," he said, referring to the sequence of events surrounding the final will.

He added that the will's seventh paragraph, in which the late Mr Lee stated that he wanted his house to be demolished after his death, "was drafted at LKY's (Lee Kuan Yew's) direction".

It was "put into language by Lee Suet Fern, his daughter-in-law, and when he was satisfied, he asked Kim Li to insert it into his will", said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

He did not explain how this clause - drafted earlier for previous versions of the will but subsequently deleted - came to be reinstated in the final will.















Lee Hsien Yang says wife's firm, Stamford Law Corporation did not draft will
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 17 Jun 2017

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will was not drafted by the law firm of his daughter-in-law Lee Suet Fern, said his younger son Lee Hsien Yang yesterday afternoon.

He added that his wife's firm, Stamford Law Corporation - now known as Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC - did not draft any of his father's wills.

"The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee&Lee," he said, referring to the sequence of events surrounding the final will. Ms Kwa is his cousin and managing partner at Lee&Lee, the firm his parents had co-founded.


But when contacted last night, Ms Kwa told The Straits Times: "I did not prepare the last will."


She declined to comment further.


Mr Lee Hsien Yang had three posts on Facebook throughout the day in response to a statement issued the night before by his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on the dispute between the Lee siblings over their father's house at 38, Oxley Road.




In the statement issued through his lawyers, PM Lee had said their father's final will was made in troubling circumstances, and asked if there was a conflict of interest when Mrs Lee helped prepare it since her husband Lee Hsien Yang stood to gain from the removal of his sister Lee Wei Ling's extra share in the will.


Mr Lee Hsien Yang said the will's seventh paragraph, in which his father stated he wanted his house to be demolished after his death, "was drafted at LKY's (Lee Kuan Yew's) direction".


It was "put into language by Lee Suet Fern, his daughter-in-law, and when he was satisfied, he asked Kim Li to insert it into his will", said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.


He did not explain how this clause, drafted earlier for previous versions of the will but subsequently deleted, came to be reinstated in the final will.


His account was at odds with that given by PM Lee in his statutory declaration made to a ministerial committee. PM Lee has questioned why the clause was in the final will when it was not in the fifth and sixth will.


He also said he had "grave concerns" over the way in which the final will came to be made, and the role played by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife.




PM Lee detailed the e-mail exchanges his brother and sister-in-law had with Mr Lee on the evening of Dec 16, 2013, and wondered at the haste with which they had moved to get changes made to the will, rather than waiting for these to be done by Ms Kwa, who had worked on the earlier wills.

He pointed to the possible conflict of interest of Mrs Lee's involvement in this process, when her husband stood to gain from the changes made.

PM Lee also asked why his sister- in-law said at the reading of the last will in April 2015 that the late Mr Lee asked her to prepare the will, but she got a lawyer from her law firm to do so instead as she did not want to get personally involved.

The lawyer was Mr Ng Joo Khin, who was present at the reading of the last will on April 12, 2015, after Mr Lee died.

PM Lee had asked who instructed Mr Ng on the last will. His brother Lee Hsien Yang replied: "The estate of LKY instructed Stamford Law to extract probate. Ng Joo Khin's role in that was to read the will to the beneficiaries." To extract probate is to have the will recognised as final and legally binding.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee are executors of their father's estate. He said in a Facebook post yesterday morning that he and his sister made similar points on Feb 28 this year to a ministerial committee set up to look into options for 38, Oxley Road.

"LHL's secret committee ignored it," he added.

In another Facebook post in the evening, he said that "this secret committee is entirely uninterested in exploring options for the house, instead focusing solely on challenging the validity of the demolition clause in LKY's will".

He said that "personal family disputes" were matters for the family courts, not a ministerial committee, and his father's wish to demolish the house was well-known.






















EXTRACT OF PM LEE'S STATUTORY DECLARATION

The Demolition Clause in the Last Will is now being used by Dr Lee Wei Ling ("LWL") and Mr Lee Hsien Yang ("LHY") to claim that Mr Lee was firm in his wish that the house at 38, Oxley Road (the "House") be demolished, and that he was not prepared to accept its preservation or contemplate options short of demolition. There is no basis for these claims, not least because of the deeply troubling circumstances concerning the making of the Last Will...

LSF's (Lee Suet Fern's) e-mail distinctly and clearly gave Mr Lee the impression that the new will would change only the division of shares, with the result that each child would have an equal share, just like in the First Will. Yet, the Last Will that LSF and her law firm prepared and got Mr Lee to sign went beyond that. Significantly, they re-inserted the Demolition Clause, even though that clause does not appear to have been discussed at the time of the making of the Last Will and had in fact been removed by Mr Lee from his immediately prior two wills (the Fifth and Sixth Wills)...

My concerns are heightened by what appears to be a conflict of interest: LSF was involved in the preparation and/or signing of the Last Will, while her husband, LHY, was a beneficiary under the Last Will and stood to gain by the removal of LWL's extra share in the Estate under the Last Will.










What PM Lee Hsien Loong said
The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Thursday issued a six-page summary of his statutory declaration to a ministerial committee. Here are some extracts:


ON THE REACTION OF HIS SISTER, DR LEE WEI LING, TO HER REDUCED SHARE OF THE ESTATE IN THE LAST WILL:

"In other words, Lee Wei Ling (LWL) herself believed that Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) and Lee Suet Fern (LSF) did her in by either suggesting or facilitating the removal of her extra share, which happened in the Last Will prepared in great haste by LSF and her law firm. In a letter from their lawyers to mine after disputes arose between LWL and LHY, on the one hand, and me on the other, LWL admitted that she became suspicious as to whether the change in shares was really Mr Lee's decision or one that was instigated by LHY and LSF, but claimed that she no longer held this suspicion. But she did not explain how or why her suspicions had now come to be so conveniently dispelled."


ON WHEN THE FEUD OVER 38, OXLEY ROAD BEGAN:

"It was also during the reading of the Last Will on April 12, 2015 that the dispute between LHY and me arose. At the reading, LHY repeatedly insisted on the immediate demolition of the House. I said that such a move so soon after Mr Lee's passing, when the public's emotions were still raw, might force the Government to promptly react by deciding to gazette the House, and that would not be in the interests of Mr Lee's legacy or Singapore. That discussion only ended when Ho Ching (HC) intervened to ask LWL if she wanted to continue living in the House. LWL said she did, which made the question of demolition moot. LHY then stopped insisting on the immediate demolition of the House.


ON WHY HE DID NOT CHALLENGE THE WILL IN COURT:

"I did not challenge the validity of the Last Will in court because I wished, to the extent possible, to avoid a public fight which would tarnish the name and reputation of Mr Lee and the family. I was also and am still concerned that LWL and LHY want(ed) to drag out probate and the administration and winding up of the Estate so that they can use their position as executors for reasons which are strictly unconnected with the administration of the Estate."


ON HOW HE TRIED TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE:

"As part of efforts to resolve the family disputes amicably, after LWL and LHY expressed unhappiness that 38 Oxley Road had been bequeathed to me following Mr Lee's passing, I told them that I was prepared to transfer 38 Oxley Road to LWL for a nominal sum of S$1 on the condition that should the property be transacted later or acquired by the Government, all proceeds would go to charity. However, a resolution proved impossible. Matters reached the point where LWL and LHY threatened to escalate their attacks against me, coinciding with the September 2015 General Election. I was not prepared to be intimidated. Their accusations were not only baseless; they were made on the premise that there were no unusual circumstances surrounding the making of the Last Will. I therefore decided to make further enquiries... but, contrary to what my siblings have claimed, my questions (which are included in those which I set out below) went unanswered."


ON THE POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST:

"My concerns are heightened by what appears to be a conflict of interest: LSF was involved in the preparation and/or signing of the Last Will, while her husband, LHY, was a beneficiary under the Last Will and stood to gain by the removal of LWL's extra share in the Estate under the Last Will. It would appear that LHY felt very strongly about LWL not receiving an extra share, which explains why, in April 2015, he told me that there "would have been big trouble" if Mr Lee had not changed the will back to equal shares between the three children".
















PM Lee Hsien Loong sets out timeline of events in the making of and execution of Lee Kuan Yew's will
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

This is a timeline of events in the making of the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's wills and the execution of his last will, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described in a statement issued by his lawyers on Thursday night (June 15) giving an edited summary of what he told a ministerial committee.

Aug 20, 2011: Mr Lee Kuan Yew's first will - first among seven versions - is made. It is prepared by Ms Kwa Kim Li, a cousin of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a lawyer at Lee & Lee, the firm co-founded by the late Mr Lee and his wife Kwa Geok Choo.

All three children are given equal shares of the estate. The first will also contains a clause stating the late Mr Lee's wish for the house at 38, Oxley Road to be demolished immediately after his death or as soon as his daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, had moved out.

Nov 2, 2012: Mr Lee's sixth will is made by Ms Kwa. It does not include the demolition clause found in the first four versions. Dr Lee is given an extra share of the estate relative to her brothers.

Dec 16, 2013: Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife Lee Suet Fern e-mails Mr Lee at 7.08pm with a draft of the last will, which she tells him ensures that all three children receive equal shares. This version also includes the demolition clause. She asks Ms Kwa to engross the document.

Twenty-three minutes later, at 7.31pm, Mr Lee Hsien Yang e-mails his father saying he cannot get in touch with Ms Kwa and believes she is away. He suggests it is unwise to wait for her to return and that Mr Lee should proceed to sign the will.

He says his wife "can get one of her partners to come round with an engrossed copy of the will to execute and witness".

At 8.12pm, Mrs Lee Suet Fern e-mails Mr Lee's private secretary, Ms Wong Lin Hoe, saying her colleague Bernard Lui had the last will ready for execution.

At 9.42pm, Mr Lee replies to Mr Lee Hsien Yang and agrees to sign the new will without waiting for Ms Kwa.

Dec 17, 2013: Two lawyers from Stamford Law Corporation - Mr Lui and Ms Elizabeth Kong - arrive at 38, Oxley Road at 11.05am for Mr Lee to sign his will. They leave at 11.20am.





March 23, 2015: Mr Lee dies.

April 12, 2015: Mr Lee's last will is read to the family by Mr Ng Joo Khin, another lawyer from the firm of Mrs Lee Suet Fern.

She said Mr Lee had asked her to prepare the last will, but as she did not want to get personally involved, she had asked Mr Ng to handle it.

A dispute arises between Mr Lee Hsien Yang and PM Lee over the immediate demolition of the house at 38, Oxley Road, but is ended when Dr Lee says she wants to continue living there.

June 2015: Copies of the six wills preceding the last will are provided to the family by Ms Kwa.

Late 2015: PM Lee and his siblings reach an agreement in which he transfers the house to his brother at market value, on the condition that the two of them each donate half the value of the house to charity.

In an earlier proposal, PM Lee had offered to transfer the house to his sister for $1, but a resolution was not reached.

PM Lee donated to charity another sum equivalent to half of the value of the house. The Oxley Road house now wholly belongs to Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

The three siblings issue a joint statement about the donation and their hope that the Government will allow the house to be demolished, in line with their father's wish.
















Will may be challenged after grant of probate, say lawyers
But they say special reasons are needed if six-month timeframe has elapsed
By K.C. Vijayan, Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times, 17 Jun 2017

Can you challenge the validity of a will after probate has been granted?

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's younger son, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, maintains that his father's will - which is at the centre of a dispute between him and his older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - is "final and legally binding" as no challenge was lodged.

Lawyers whom The Straits Times spoke to said that six months, as spelt out in the Wills Act, is a guideline, but a challenge beyond that is possible depending on the reasons.

"If it's after the six months, you have got to give special reasons and it is at the court's discretion," said Dr G. Raman, a veteran probate lawyer.

This is the legal process of probate, when the concerned parties prove in court that a will is a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased.

Probate for the late Mr Lee's will was granted on Oct 6, 2015.



Lawyers suggest that if new evidence surfaces, it is still possible to mount a challenge.

WongPartnership lawyer Sim Bock Eng cited the example where a subsequent will of the testator surfaces, or where there is fraud or other reasons.

The will has become a focal point of the dispute between the siblings after PM Lee, in a summary of his statutory declaration made public on Thursday, raised serious doubts about whether his father was properly and independently advised on the contents of his last will before he signed it.

On why he did not challenge it earlier, PM Lee said he had hoped to settle the matter within the family.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang, however, maintained that the will is "final and legally binding" as PM Lee raised no legal challenge in court and should not use a ministerial committee to try and do so now. He was referring to the committee that has been tasked to look into options for the late Mr Lee's home at 38, Oxley Road.

Paragraph seven of the last will is the main sticking point. It relates to the late founding prime minister's wish to have the Oxley Road home demolished immediately after his death, or after his daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, moves out.

PM Lee said this clause had been removed from two earlier versions of the will and reinstated in the final one under "troubling circumstances".

He added that the clause was now being used by his siblings to claim their father was firm in his wish that the house be demolished, and that he was not prepared to accept its preservation or contemplate options short of demolition.

Another issue raised by PM Lee was a possible conflict of interest with Mrs Lee Suet Fern's involvement in any preparation of the will in which her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, was a beneficiary.

According to lawyers, there is no absolute prohibition against a law firm using its lawyers to attest a will where a member of the firm is related to the testator.

Ms Sim said that although there is a practice direction that discourages doing such work, "it is not uncommon to have staff of a firm asking for assistance in this regard".

Dr Raman added: "There is no prohibition, but it is not prudent to witness or attest to the will when there is a relationship."

Ms Sim explained that there is good reason for this - it ensures that the will reflects the testamentary intent of the testator and that he or she is not under the undue influence of a family member.

PM Lee also noted that the lawyers who witnessed the will signed by his father had spent 15 minutes at the house, and said they "plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the last will and not to advise him".

Lawyers pointed to a 2009 case in which the Court of Appeal underlined the serious professional responsibilities that lawyers must "uncompromisingly observe and discharge".

Among other things, the court reminded lawyers to "confirm with the testator, prior to the execution of the will, that the contents of the will as drafted accurately express the latter's intention".

The court had further explained that the lawyer concerned should also "conscientiously seek to avoid being in any situation where a potential conflict of interest may appear to exist. If the solicitor might be perceived as anything less than a completely independent adviser to the testator, he ought not, as a matter of good practice, to be involved in the explanation, the interpretation and the execution of the will".

As to how long it takes to settle such matters, veteran lawyer V. Ramakrishnan said it can be very short or protracted, "depending on the circumstances of the case".





PM Lee agreed to sell Oxley house to resolve dispute
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

The house at the centre of the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings now belongs to his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang.

The property was bequeathed to PM Lee by their father, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The late Mr Lee's estate was divided equally among his three children, according to his last will read on April 12, 2015.

In a statement issued by his lawyers last night, giving an edited summary of what he had told a ministerial committee, PM Lee said he had offered to transfer the property to his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, at a nominal sum of $1.

He added that should the property be transacted later or acquired by the Government, all proceeds would go to charity.



PM Lee said the proposed transfer was made as part of efforts to resolve the family disputes amicably, after Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang expressed unhappiness that the house had been given to him.

The siblings could not reach an agreement until late in 2015, when PM Lee transferred ownership of the house to Mr Lee Hsien Yang instead, at full market value. The price was not disclosed.

In addition, the two brothers each donated half the value of the house to eight charities named in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's obituary notice.

This was "to pre-empt any future controversy over compensation or redevelopment proceeds", PM Lee said.

"It is not tenable for the family to retain proceeds from any dealing with 38, Oxley Road, as it would look like the family is opposing acquisition and preservation of the house for monetary reasons," he said, adding that his brother remains unhappy about him taking this position, and his sister appears to be as well.

The revelations in PM Lee's statement appeared to be in response to the allegations made by his siblings that he and his wife had been keen to have the house preserved for their own political gain, and that he had abused his position to push his political agenda.

PM Lee's statement also made clear that the Government would consider what to do with the house only after Dr Lee no longer lived in it.















Lee Wei Ling, Lee Hsien Yang threatened to air dispute during 2015 General Election, said PM Lee Hsien Loong
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's siblings Lee Wei Ling (LWL) and Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) had threatened to embarrass him during the 2015 General Election by spilling details about the tussle over their late father's house.

"Matters reached the point where LWL and LHY threatened to escalate their attacks against me, coinciding with the September 2015 General Election," PM Lee said. "I was not prepared to be intimidated."

This was in a statutory declaration he made to a ministerial committee set up to consider options on the house at 38, Oxley Road.

In the declaration, he revealed his deep misgivings about his father's final will and said these circumstances had called into question Mr Lee Kuan Yew's thinking and wishes in relation to his house. Mr Lee had died on March 23, 2015.


In August that year, a general election was called, with polling day on Sept 11. During the election period, a dispute between PM Lee and his siblings had not been resolved, and he was threatened over it.



The future of the late Mr Lee's house had become a point of contention for the three siblings.

Dr Lee and her brother Lee Hsien Yang had expressed unhappiness that their father's house was bequeathed to PM Lee.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang also wanted it demolished right after Mr Lee's death, a move PM Lee opposed as he felt it was too soon and people's emotions were still too raw.

PM Lee said he was concerned this might force the Government to react by deciding to gazette the house, which would not be in the best interests of the late Mr Lee's legacy or Singapore.

Subsequently, PM Lee offered to transfer the house to Dr Lee for a nominal sum of $1, subject to some conditions, but this was not accepted by his siblings.

The family dispute was not resolved by the time the election was called. The People's Action Party won it with 69.86 per cent of the popular vote, its best election result since 2001.

In his declaration, PM Lee said he was not prepared to be intimidated as his siblings' accusations were baseless. He also said the accusations were made on the premise that nothing unusual surrounded the circumstances of how their father's final will was made.

















PM Lee's statements contradictory, says Lee Hsien Yang
He says PM Lee's statutory declarations inconsistent with his 2015 statement in Parliament
By Danson Cheong and Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Mr Lee Hsien Yang responded to his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in Facebook posts yesterday, saying in one that it was "wrong to lie to Parliament and it is wrong to lie under oath".

He said a statement that PM Lee made in Parliament contradicts the statutory declarations he made to a ministerial committee.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang was referring to a statement made by PM Lee to Parliament on April 13, 2015, on the home of their father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at 38, Oxley Road.

PM Lee told the parliamentary session - held nearly a month after Mr Lee's death on March 23, 2015 - that his father was adamant that the house should be demolished after his death and not turned into a museum and a memorial to him.



Mr Lee Hsien Yang's post was also a reference to what PM Lee had stated in statutory declarations to a ministerial committee that was set up to consider options for the Oxley Road house.

The committee's existence came to light on Wednesday in a statement issued by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, that was critical of PM Lee and which centred on the long-running dispute over the future of the Oxley Road house.

In a summary of the statutory declarations that PM Lee made to the committee, released through his lawyers yesterday, PM Lee rejected his siblings' claims that Mr Lee was not prepared to accept the preservation of the house, or other options short of demolition. "There is no basis for these claims, not least because of the deeply troubling circumstances concerning the making of the last will."

He also said later in the declarations that he held firm against objections from his brother and his wife Lee Suet Fern to him reading out in Parliament the full version of the demolition clause in the final will.

The full version included what the late Mr Lee wanted done to the house if it was not demolished - namely that the house be open only to his children, their families and their descendants.

But Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in his post last night: "We have a question for Lee Hsien Loong: Does he or does he not believe that Lee Kuan Yew was unwavering in his wish that the house be demolished? Is his statement to Parliament false, or is his statement under oath false?"

He also took aim at a point PM Lee made in the statutory declarations: that there was no evidence that their father knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into his last will.



To make his point, Mr Lee Hsien Yang's post included a picture of Mr Lee's initials just below the clause in the will.

"How could Lee Kuan Yew not know when he initialled right beneath the Demolition Clause, and (Lee Hsien Loong) has the will?" he added.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in a separate Facebook post that the will of their late father was "final and binding". "We have no confidence in Lee Hsien Loong or his secret committee."

He also presented a series of statements to show discrepancies between statements PM Lee made in public and to the ministerial committee.

On the issue of deciding what to do with the house, for instance, he said PM Lee told Parliament "there is no immediate issue of demolition of the house, and no need for the Government to make a decision now".

But Mr Lee Hsien Yang noted that a "secret" committee of ministers was then set up to investigate and make recommendations about the house.

On the issue of Mr Lee's will, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said that probate for the will was granted on Oct 6, 2015, and that meant it was recognised as final and legally binding.

He said PM Lee raised no legal challenge at that time.

But in private, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said, PM Lee wrote to the ministerial committee to say "there is no evidence that Mr Lee even knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into the last will''.

He also said that on Mr Lee's position on the house, PM Lee quoted the demolition clause in Parliament and said that his father's position on the house was "unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values".

Mr Lee Hsien Yang added that PM Lee told the ministerial committee that "(Mr Lee Kuan Yew) then took a number of steps which put beyond any doubt that he came to accept Cabinet's position."

















Lee Suet Fern steps down as Singapore managing partner of law firm Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP
By Grace Leong, The Straits Times, 17 Jun 2017

Global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has said that Mrs Lee Suet Fern, the managing partner of its combined practice in Singapore, has stepped down from that role.

But Mrs Lee - the wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang - will continue to play a key role in its global strategy from offices here and in Hong Kong.

The couple said earlier this week that they are preparing to leave Singapore - but have not said where they intend to live.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for the firm in Washington said yesterday that "the firm does not anticipate any material change in our Singapore team or practice".

She added that Mrs Lee will "continue to spend a significant amount of time in Singapore as well as travel to Hong Kong, as she already does in support of her strong client relationships there, and as head of our international leadership team".



Morgan Lewis & Bockius merged in 2015 with Stamford Law - founded by Mrs Lee - and became Morgan Lewis Stamford, a Singapore law practice where the partners are concurrent partners of the global firm. Mrs Lee, a top corporate lawyer, then became managing partner of the combined practice here.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Ng Joo Khin, Mrs Lee's deputy and a Morgan Lewis Stamford partner, has been made office managing partner as part of a long-planned transition, which allows Mrs Lee to keep a key role in its global strategy.

Mrs Lee remains on the advisory board of Morgan Lewis & Bockius and will continue to be the head of the international leadership team. The team is made up of, in part, office managing partners of Morgan Lewis' international offices worldwide. Sources said Mrs Lee will be based in the Singapore and Hong Kong offices.



On Wednesday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang issued a statement with his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, saying they felt closely monitored and feared the use of state organs against them. The dispute centres on the house of their late father - former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew - at 38, Oxley Road.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised questions over Mrs Lee's role and that of her law firm in preparing the last will of the late Mr Lee. Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said that Stamford Law did not draft Mr Lee's final will.

The Straits Times understands that Morgan Lewis said it "stands by that account, and notes that no objections had previously been made to the final will, or the provision about demolition of the house, which was a well-known wish of Mr Lee Kuan Yew".


















Lee Wei Ling's extra share of father's estate removed in final will
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Initially, Dr Lee Wei Ling was promised an extra share of the estate of her father Lee Kuan Yew, but it was taken away in Mr Lee's final will, a document that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said was prepared in great haste by lawyers of his sister-in-law's legal firm.

That change aroused "grave suspicions" in Dr Lee that her younger brother Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, lawyer Lee Suet Fern, "did her in" by removing her extra share.

These events were described in a statement PM Lee released last night on a statutory declaration he had made to a ministerial committee considering options for the late Mr Lee's home at 38, Oxley Road.

PM Lee noted that his father gave all three children an equal share in his first will of Aug 20, 2011.

There were seven wills altogether, and in the sixth will of Nov 2, 2012, Dr Lee was given an extra share. PM Lee said this became "the subject of discussion" between his father and his brother in late 2013.

On Dec 16, 2013, Mrs Lee Suet Fern e-mailed his father, his brother and Ms Kwa Kim Li - his cousin and a lawyer at Lee & Lee who had prepared the six earlier wills of Mr Lee - an original agreed will that gave all three children equal shares. PM Lee said this showed discussions between his brother and father had led to Mr Lee reverting to his earlier decision. This would deprive Dr Lee of her additional share as stated in the sixth will.

But a "mere 23 minutes" after Mrs Lee's e-mail, PM Lee said, his brother wrote to his father saying he believed Ms Kwa was away and that he did not think it was "wise to wait till she is back" to sign the seventh will. PM Lee said his brother wrote that a lawyer in his wife's firm could bring the new will for Mr Lee to sign. His father agreed.

"It is also not clear why (Hsien Yang) thought there was an urgency to the matter. It is, however, interesting that he suggested his wife, clearly an interested party, and her partners would prepare the new will," said PM Lee.

That same night, Mrs Lee wrote to Mr Lee's private secretary to make arrangements for the new will to be signed.

"So, in the space of 41 minutes, (Mrs Lee) saw to the preparation of the new will and got one of her lawyers to be on standby to get it executed by Mr Lee," said PM Lee.

The following morning, two lawyers from her firm went to 38, Oxley Road to witness the signing of the seventh and last will.



PM Lee said neither he nor his sister was on the e-mail list of correspondences with his father, adding that he became aware of "these troubling circumstances" later.

He said Dr Lee had also begun to be suspicious of the change.

In July 2014, Dr Lee told PM Lee's wife Ho Ching about her concerns in a series of e-mails, said PM Lee.

"Crucially, she said, 'If that is what Pa wants, so be it. But I don't trust Fern, and she has great influence on Yang', " he added.

He said Dr Lee also wrote that she "wondered whether Yang pulled a fast one", and that she had a "sense that Yang played me out".

Dr Lee also wrote to Ms Ho Ching: "The money I don't get does not upset me. It is that Yang and Fern would do this to me."

PM Lee said: "In other words, (Dr Lee) herself believed that (Hsien Yang and his wife) did her in by either suggesting or facilitating the removal of her extra share, which happened in the last will prepared in great haste by (Mrs Lee) and her law firm."

He added that in letters to his lawyers after disputes arose between him and his siblings, "Dr Lee admitted she had been suspicious whether the change in shares was really (their father's) decision or one that was instigated by (Hsien Yang and his wife), but claimed she no longer held this suspicion".

"But she did not explain how or why her suspicions had now come to be so conveniently dispelled," PM Lee added.










Lee Wei Ling disputes PM's account of her reaction to changes to her father's will
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Dr Lee Wei Ling said yesterday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching were being "mischievous and dishonest" for selectively using quotes from her "to suggest that Hsien Yang and his wife were trying to cheat me in our father's final will".

She said in a Facebook post that the final will of her late father, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, was important to her as it gave her "a clear right" to live at 38, Oxley Road, which is what she wanted.



"I had much earlier and repeatedly made clear to Hsien Loong and Ho Ching the truth that there was no duplicity by Hsien Yang and his wife, Suet Fern," she said in a post shortly after PM Lee released a summary of a statutory declaration that he had made to a ministerial committee that was set up to look into options for the Oxley Road house.

"He continues to repeat a position that I have both clarified and discredited as a smokescreen to obscure the key point that Lee Kuan Yew's final will of 17 December 2013 is in the same terms as his will of 19 August 2011, including the demolition clause, exactly as our father had intended."



In the declaration, PM Lee outlined his concerns about how the late Mr Lee's will was prepared, and in one part said Dr Lee had "grave suspicions" that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Suet Fern "did her in" by removing an extra share that she had received in the estate.

Dr Lee said in her post that following Mr Lee's will of Aug 19, 2011, PM Lee and his wife "were unhappy that I had been given a right to live at the original house at 38, Oxley Road. They pushed and persuaded my father very hard on this issue. This eventually resulted in 2012 in my losing my right to stay in the house and my share of my father's estate being reduced to only a life interest".

She disclosed she was upset and had quarrelled with her father, and said it was Mrs Lee Suet Fern who interceded on her behalf, met Mr Lee and "made a case that since I was his only daughter and was unmarried, it was particularly important that he provide for me rather than reduce my interest in his estate".

"My father did reinstate me and gave me an extra 1/7 share as a result. Hsien Yang and his wife were never informed of this extra share and continued to worry that I should be fairly treated and have a right to live in the house," Dr Lee said.

"I, too, was concerned about my right to live at 38, Oxley Road. Lee Kuan Yew's final will of 17 December 2013 gave me that right. It is this that Ho Ching and Hsien Loong are trying to deny me."

Mr Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 91.



Dr Lee yesterday also uploaded copies of e-mails from September 2012 of exchanges she had with Mrs Lee Suet Fern, as well as one that Mrs Lee Suet Fern sent to Mr K. Shanmugam, who was then foreign minister.

In the e-mail to Mr Shanmugam, Mrs Lee Suet Fern disclosed, among other things, that she persuaded Mr Lee Kuan Yew "to capitulate" and give Dr Lee "equal share in the same manner as her brothers. No restrictions at all...".

The copies of these e-mails were, however, removed from her Facebook page shortly afterwards. They were then put back up again under another account.

In another Facebook post in the early hours of yesterday morning, Dr Lee had said she and Mr Lee Hsien Yang would not have issued a public statement if the disputes with PM Lee over the late Mr Lee's house "were merely a family affair".

She said the main message of their six-page statement released on Wednesday was not that the siblings feared what PM Lee would do to them. Rather, she alleged that PM Lee's "misuse (of) his official power" against his siblings in relation to the house at 38, Oxley Road suggests he could do the same to ordinary citizens. She added that their lawyer edited this message out of the statement.

In their statement, the two siblings also said they had lost confidence in PM Lee, adding that they feared the use of state organs against them.























Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said there is nothing secretive about the ministerial committee set up to look into the options for 38 Oxley Road


 





 





Govt must consider public interest for properties with heritage and historical value, including 38 Oxley Road
Nothing 'secret' about ministerial committee studying options for the late Mr Lee's house
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday made public the composition of a ministerial committee studying options for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38, Oxley Road, and refuted Mr Lee Hsien Yang's claims that it was "secret", as the feud over Mr Lee's will continues.

"There is nothing 'secret' about this committee. It is a committee like numerous other committees that Cabinet may set up from time to time to consider specific issues," said DPM Teo of the committee he both set up and chairs.

DPM Teo chairs Cabinet when there are any deliberations on 38, Oxley Road, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had recused himself from all government decisions to be taken on the house after Mr Lee died in March 2015.

Also in the committee are Cabinet ministers responsible for heritage, land issues and urban planning - Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.



Mr Teo's statement comes after Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling made multiple statements criticising their brother, PM Lee, over the "secret committee", which they said was set up to challenge the validity of Mr Lee's will after probate had been granted.

In explaining the committee's role, Mr Teo said the Government has the responsibility to consider the public interest aspects of any property with heritage and historical significance, and this applies to 38, Oxley Road.

"Many critical decisions on the future of Singapore were made there by Mr Lee and our pioneer leaders. The committee has thus been looking at the options available for 38, Oxley Road while paying particular attention to respecting Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wishes for his house."

Mr Teo added: "Mr Lee Hsien Yang now owns the property. As provided for in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will, Dr Lee Wei Ling can stay in it for as long as she wishes. The Government has already stated on several occasions that it will not do anything to affect Dr Lee's right to continue living at 38, Oxley Road."

On why the committee was established when no immediate decision has to be made on the house since Dr Lee is still living there, Mr Teo said: "Due process is needed to consider the various options before making any decision on the house. This can take some time."

He also cited other factors, including the fact that soon after their father died, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee, as executors of his will, wanted the Government to commit itself immediately to demolishing the house.

He said the ministerial committee wrote to all three siblings to ask for their views, to get a clearer sense of Mr Lee's thinking on the house.

The committee sought further clarifications when the siblings provided differing accounts of their father's wishes, he added.

"The committee's interest in Mr Lee's will is confined to the light that it sheds on his wishes for the house," Mr Teo said.

Mr Teo said he personally would not support preserving the house as it is, for visitors to enter and see, as that would be totally against the wishes of the late Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew.

But he also was not in favour of having the house demolished and the property put on the market for new private residences either.

He added: "The committee has also been studying various intermediate options such as demolishing the house but keeping the basement dining room where many important historical meetings took place, with an appropriate heritage centre attached. These studies are ongoing."

His approach in handling the matter drew support from Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. In a post on his MParader Facebook page last night, he said it was right to explore options beyond the binary demolish-preserve decision.



Mr Lee Hsien Yang is still not convinced. In a Facebook post yesterday evening, he said the committee is "fundamentally flawed" as it is made up of subordinates "sitting, arbitrating an issue related to their boss".

He also called Mr Shanmugam's inclusion in the committee a "clear conflict of interest", as he had advised the Lee family on the will. This drew a swift rebuke from the Law Minister, who called the suggestion "ridiculous".

Separately, PM Lee, who had been away on leave, returned to Singapore yesterday and will be back at work tomorrow.
















Lee Hsien Yang's suggestion of conflict of interest is 'ridiculous', says Shanmugam
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam last night hit back at a suggestion that his inclusion in a ministerial committee considering options for 38, Oxley Road was a conflict of interest, calling the notion "ridiculous".

He was responding on Facebook to Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who said in an earlier post that he and his sister Lee Wei Ling expressed specific concerns about Mr Shanmugam's possible involvement in the committee.

Mr Shanmugam also said in his rebuttal that most Singaporeans were "sick and tired about these endless allegations, which are quite baseless" put out by Mr Lee and Dr Lee.

"The Government has serious business to attend to relating to the welfare of Singaporeans," he said.



In the Facebook post that prompted the minister's response, Mr Lee disclosed that Mr Shanmugam advised his family on options to help achieve Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wishes, as well as the drafting of a clause stating that the late Mr Lee wanted the Oxley Road house demolished after his death.

Mr Shanmugam's inclusion on the committee "represents a clear conflict of interest", Mr Lee Hsien Yang wrote. "He is an experienced Senior Counsel and Minister for Law who should well understand the problem of conflicts of interest."

The allegation brought a swift rebuttal from Mr Shanmugam.

Having been in practice for more than 22 years, he said he is "well aware" of the rules of conflict.

"The suggestion that I am in conflict is ridiculous. If Mr Lee Hsien Yang seriously believes that I was in conflict, he can get a lawyer to write to me and I will respond," he added.



He said he was already a Cabinet minister when he spoke to some Lee family members - at their behest - and gave them his views.

"They were not my clients. Nothing that I said then precludes me from serving in this committee."

Mr Shanmugam also noted that there are dozens of Cabinet committees - both temporary and permanent - on a variety of matters.

Their composition is not public, and they report to the Cabinet.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said that he and Dr Lee were denied information on the composition of the "shadowy committee members" for almost a year, despite repeated requests.

It was only yesterday that they found out Mr Shanmugam was also on it, from a statement that Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean issued laying out the committee's composition and responsibilities.

"We had expressed specific concerns on the possible membership of Shanmugam and his conflict of interest having advised Lee Kuan Yew and us on options to help achieve Lee Kuan Yew's wishes, and the drafting of the demolition wish," Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in his post.

He said that when they raised their concerns about Mr Shanmugam's possible involvement in writing, they were "brushed off" by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

According to Mr Lee Hsien Yang's post, Mr Wong said: "Nothing you have stated precludes any member of the Cabinet from taking part in the Committee's work or its deliberations, with the exception of the Prime Minister."

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee have, over the past week, criticised their brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over the formation of a "secret committee" dealing with options for the Oxley Road house.

Yesterday, DPM Teo said its members include Cabinet ministers responsible for heritage, land issues and urban planning: Mr Shanmugam, Mr Wong and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

But Mr Lee Hsien Yang, in his Facebook post, said the committee was "fundamentally flawed".

"It is clear that a committee of one's subordinates, should not be sitting arbitrating an issue related to their boss," he said. "That is why the Committee is fundamentally flawed. As the subordinates of the PM, how can they possibly be in a position to deal in this private disagreement? This is the wrong forum."











Lee Hsien Yang unhappy over delay and uncertainty in demolishing Oxley Road House: Goh Chok Tong
Options for Oxley home beyond 'demolish v preserve' being studied
Useful for future Govt to have set of choices to consider: DPM Teo
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

A ministerial committee is studying various "intermediate options" for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38, Oxley Road, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

This includes keeping the basement dining room, where many important historical meetings took place, with an appropriate heritage centre attached.

DPM Teo said he has shared with the Lee siblings some of the options that relevant agencies are studying for the property.

In a Facebook post last night, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said Mr Teo had shared the range of options with him last year.

"I advised him to respect Lee Kuan Yew's wish but agreed that it would be disrespectful of our own heritage to just demolish the house for it to be replaced by a commercial building or another private residence," Mr Goh said.

He added that DPM Teo is "right to explore options beyond the binary demolish-preserve decision".



In his statement yesterday, Mr Teo said he personally would not support options at either end of the range. "At one end, preserving the house as it is for visitors to enter and see would be totally against the wishes of Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew; and at the other, demolishing the house and putting the property on the market for new private residences."

DPM Teo also said the Government has stated on several occasions that it will not do anything to affect Dr Lee Wei Ling's right to continue living at the house.

On why he set up a ministerial committee when no immediate decision was needed, he said there must be due process to consider the various options before making any decisions on the house, and this can take some time.

DPM Teo also cited three other factors.

First, if Dr Lee chooses to move out of the house in the near future, a decision on the house might have to be taken at that point.

He noted that soon after the late Mr Lee died, Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, as executors of his will, wanted the Government to commit itself to immediately demolishing the house. This was even though Dr Lee might continue living there for many years.

Third, DPM Teo said some Cabinet ministers, including himself, felt it would be useful if a future Government deciding on the house had a set of options that came from ministers who had personally discussed the matter with the late Mr Lee.



Mr Goh said he supports the careful way in which DPM Teo and the Government are handling the issue, as public interests are involved.

He shared DPM Teo's thinking with Mr Lee Hsien Yang last year, but "the latter remained unhappy over the delay and uncertainty in demolishing the house".

Mr Goh also said Singaporeans can urge the Lee siblings to settle their dispute amicably in private or through closed-door arbitration.

"It is not worth tearing up family bonds built over a lifetime over these differences, however serious they are. This is not the family legacy which their father would have wanted to leave behind."





More questions arise over Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final will
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

Further questions were raised yesterday about Mr Lee Kuan Yew's (LKY) final will when his younger son Lee Hsien Yang sought to explain how it turned out the way it did.

The last will, he said, was simply a reversion to the first will, and this was done on the "express instruction" of his father. But parts of the first will were left out by mistake.

Responding to media queries in a Facebook post yesterday, he wrote: "Lee Kuan Yew's final will in December 2013 was engrossed on the basis of his express instruction to revert to his first will from 2011."

He added that the seventh and last will "was simply Lee Kuan Yew's first will of Aug 20, 2011, re-executed on his instructions".

The preparation of the late Mr Lee's last will has emerged as a main point of contention in the feud between the Lee siblings over their father's 38, Oxley Road home.



Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier said their father's last will was made in troubling circumstances, and asked if there was a conflict of interest when Mrs Lee Suet Fern helped prepare it, since her husband Lee Hsien Yang stood to gain from the removal of his sister Lee Wei Ling's extra share in the last will.

The last will also "differed in significant aspects from the first will", PM Lee noted in his statutory declarations to a ministerial committee, a summary of which was released on Thursday.

The last will did not have a gift-over clause, and PM Lee said "there is nothing which suggests that Mr Lee had given instructions for it to be removed".

This clause provides for shares of the late Mr Lee's estate to go directly to his grandchildren, if his sons died before him.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said the clause was missing as "we took what we understood to be the final version of the 2011 will, without realising that a gift-over clause had been in the executed version of the 2011 will. This was then engrossed without amendment".

He has also said his wife's law firm did not draft any of his father's wills. He added that the last will was drafted by lawyer Kwa Kim Li of Lee & Lee - a claim Ms Kwa denied on Friday when she said she did not prepare the last will.



PM Lee had also questioned why a clause, in which his father stated that he wanted his house demolished after his death, was re- inserted in the last will when it was removed from the fifth and sixth versions of the will.

"There is no evidence that Mr Lee even knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into the last will," PM Lee said.

In his post yesterday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said two lawyers from his wife's law firm - Mr Bernard Lui and Ms Elizabeth Kong - were called to witness the signing of the will as Ms Kwa was not contactable.

"Lee Kuan Yew had read the final will carefully and initialled every page, including just below the demolition clause," he said.

In a subsequent post, he also cited a file note by the two lawyers, who witnessed the will signing at 11.10am.

The lawyers had said that "LKY read through every line of the will and was comfortable to sign and initial every page, which he did in our presence", he added.

He also reiterated that the proper venue to challenge a will is in court.

He said once probate is granted - which means a will is recognised as final and legally binding - the hurdle to challenge a will is considerably higher.

PM Lee had said he did not challenge the validity of the last will in court as he wanted to "avoid a public fight which would tarnish the name and reputation of Mr Lee and the family". To this, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said probate hearings can be heard "in camera", or behind closed doors.





Oxley Road home was where history was made
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 18 Jun 2017

At the heart of the dispute between the children of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is the house at 38, Oxley Road where they grew up.

The pre-war bungalow sits on a plot of about 12,000 sq ft on the street named after Dr Thomas Oxley, a British medical doctor who held the post of senior surgeon for the Straits Settlements in 1844.

It is near Orchard Road, and is estimated to be worth at least $24 million. But the value of the house goes beyond the monetary - it is also where history was made.

A young Mr Lee had moved into what he later described as the "big, rambling house with five bedrooms, and three others at the back" with his wife Kwa Geok Choo in the 1940s.

It was in its basement that a group of what Mr Lee termed "beer-swilling bourgeois" English-educated friends brainstormed the formation of the People's Action Party (PAP).

These meetings in 1954 were described in the book Men In White: The Untold Story Of Singapore's Ruling Political Party. The group would usually get together between 2.30 and 5.30 on Saturday afternoons. Some 20 participants, including the 14 founding members of the PAP, would engage in heated debate about politics and self-rule around a long table. During the party's early days, the house was also often the PAP's election headquarters to prepare for the polls.

It is while living there that the Lees' children were born: Lee Hsien Loong, then daughter Wei Ling, and younger son Hsien Yang.

The veranda of the house was where the three siblings received Malay and Chinese language tuition and, as young children, celebrated their birthdays with a small cake.

HOUSE WITH NO FOUNDATIONS

Those who have visited the house described its interior as spartan and unpretentious. The late Mr Lee and his wife lived there all their lives, except for a few weeks after Singapore's independence in 1965, when they moved to the Istana with their children over security concerns.

Built over a century ago by a Jewish merchant, the house has no foundations. As a result, the walls get damp, Mr Lee told a group of journalists from The Straits Times during an interview for the book Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going. Cracks had also formed, though the pillars were sound.

An ever pragmatic Mr Lee added that it would cost too much to conserve and maintain the house. He suggested demolishing it after his death, so that planning rules in the area could change and neighbouring houses could be built higher.

















Oxley Road dispute: Two parts to demolition clause in Lee Kuan Yew's will, says Indranee
Second part recognises that the Oxley Road house might not be demolished, she says
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2017

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final will specifically accepts and acknowledges that demolition of his Oxley Road house may not take place, said Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah.

In a Facebook post yesterday, she cited a clause on demolishing 38, Oxley Road in the will, saying it shows demolition is not the only option the late Mr Lee considered.

The question of whether to demolish the house lies at the heart of a public feud between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

Yesterday, Ms Indranee noted that there are two parts to the demolition clause.

The first part expresses the late Mr and Mrs Lee's wish to demolish the house, but the second recognises that the house may not be demolished for a number of reasons, she said.

She cited the second part, which states: "If our children are unable to demolish the house as a result of any changes in the laws, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the house never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants."



Ms Indranee said: "Much of the recent public discussion on this issue has been premised on the assumption that the seventh will only contemplates one outcome - demolition. But this is not the case. The will specifically accepts and acknowledges that demolition may not take place."

She also sought to clarify three other issues about the dispute, which became public on June 14 when Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang issued a statement saying they had lost confidence in PM Lee, feared the use of state organs against them, and accused their brother of misusing his power, among other allegations.

As to why the Government is involved in the fate of the house, Ms Indranee said that while the inheritance of the late Mr Lee's estate is a private matter, what happens to the house is a matter of public interest.

Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have criticised the formation of a ministerial committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, to consider options for the house. They alleged that the committee is focused solely on challenging the validity of the demolition clause in their father's will.

Ms Indranee said the Government has to be involved because the house is "not just any old piece of property. It is intertwined with the history of the nation".

It was where the country's founding fathers met to make important and historical decisions that led to internal self-government, merger and eventually independence, she said.

"The strategies to outflank the communists were developed there. It is where the People's Action Party was formed," she added.

After Mr Lee died on March 23, 2015, there were many calls to turn 38, Oxley Road into a museum or memorial, she noted.

The Government thus has a duty to consider the public interest and the historical and heritage perspective while "taking very seriously into account" the late Mr Lee's wishes, she said.

In any case, the house cannot be demolished now, she noted, because Dr Lee is still living there - as stipulated in Mr Lee's will.

It may be decades before a definite decision needs to be taken, and the Cabinet at that time will have to decide, she said.

"Most of the current Cabinet ministers are unlikely to be in the Cabinet then," she added.

Ms Indranee also reiterated that PM Lee was not involved in government deliberations on the house.

PM Lee had stated in Parliament on April 13, 2015 that as a son, he would like to see his parents' wishes carried out.

"However, as Prime Minister, he would have to consider whether it is in the wider public interest to demolish the house given its historical significance. The answer to this may be different from his parents' or his own personal wishes," she said.

"It is a very difficult dilemma for him. For this reason, the Prime Minister has recused himself from taking part in any government consideration or decisions regarding 38, Oxley Road."











What the clause in Lee Kuan Yew's final will states

There are two parts in a clause to demolish the 38, Oxley Road house in the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final will, which are at the heart of the dispute between the Lee siblings. Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling have focused on the first part, but the second part shows that the late Mr Lee had considered the possibility that the house might be preserved. The clause states:

"I further declare that it is my wish and the wish of my late wife, Kwa Geok Choo, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 be demolished immediately after my death, or if my daughter Wei Ling would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the house. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the house be carried out.



If our children are unable to demolish the house as a result of any changes in the laws, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the house never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants.

My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged





Four things to know about Oxley dispute
By Indranee Rajah, Published The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2017

As Singaporeans we are all saddened by the Oxley dispute. I am particularly saddened because I looked after Minister Mentor (MM) Lee Kuan Yew's constituency in his final years and got to see at close quarters what a great man he was. I know how much this would have grieved MM and Mrs Lee.

People have expressed confusion about the things which have been said. Many are trying to make sense of it all. The key to understanding this matter is first to get a handle on the issues and some important facts.

Here are four things you should know about the Oxley dispute.


1. WHAT DOES THE SEVENTH WILL ACTUALLY SAY?

Serious questions have been raised as to how Mr Lee Kuan Yew's seventh will was prepared. However, leaving those aside for the moment, and taking the seventh will at face value, what does it actually say about 38, Oxley Road?

The relevant part is in paragraph 7 of the will. It was read out by the Prime Minister in Parliament on April 13, 2015, and this is what it says: "I further declare that it is my wish and the wish of my late Wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 ("the House") be demolished immediately after my death, or if my daughter Wei Ling would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out.

"If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the laws, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants.

"My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private."

Based on the seventh will, several things are instantly clear:

Demolition was not the only option contemplated by Mr Lee Kuan Yew;

There are two parts to the clause. The first part expresses his and Mrs Lee's wish, which was for demolition;

However, the second part recognises that the house may not be demolished for a number of reasons. Mr Lee accepted that the house may not be demolished and, in such case, expressed his wishes on what should happen. Essentially, he did not want the House to be opened to the public.

Much of the recent public discussion on this issue has been premised on the assumption that the seventh will contemplates only one outcome - demolition. But this is not the case. The will specifically accepts and acknowledges that demolition may not take place.





2. WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN WHAT HAPPENS TO 38, OXLEY ROAD? ISN'T THIS A PRIVATE MATTER?

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's estate and who inherits what is a private matter, but what is to be done with 38, Oxley Road is not purely a private matter: 38, Oxley Road is closely bound up with the history of Singapore. It is the site where our founding fathers first came together and set Singapore on the path to its future destiny. It is where important and historical decisions were made that led to internal self-government, merger and eventually independence. The strategies to outflank the communists were developed there. It is where the People's Action Party was formed.

People will recall that after Mr Lee's death and before this dispute was made public, there were many calls to turn 38, Oxley Road into a museum or memorial. At the parliamentary session of April 13, 2015, the Prime Minister also recounted how when Mr Lee mentioned demolition in his book Hard Truths, there was a public reaction as some people wanted the house preserved.

Why is this so? It is because Singaporeans understand the historical significance of the site - 38, Oxley Road is not just any old piece of property. It is intertwined with the history of the nation. For this reason, what happens to 38, Oxley Road is not purely a private family matter. It is also a matter of public interest. This is also reflected in the fact that paragraph 7 of the will provides for public disclosure.

Because it is a matter of public interest, the Government has to be involved. As Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has explained, the Government has a duty to take a view from the public interest, historical and heritage perspective, while taking very seriously into account the wishes expressed by Mr Lee in paragraph 7 of his will.


3. WHAT IS PM'S INVOLVEMENT IN GOVERNMENT DELIBERATIONS ON 38, OXLEY ROAD?

None. He has taken himself out of the equation.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong is the eldest son of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. But he is also our Prime Minister. As a son, he would like to see his parents' wishes carried out. He stated this in Parliament on April 13, 2015.

However, as Prime Minister, he would have to consider whether it is in the wider public interest to demolish the House given its historical significance. The answer to this may be different from his parents' or his own personal wishes. It is a very difficult dilemma for him. For this reason, the Prime Minister has recused himself from taking part in any government consideration or decision regarding 38, Oxley Road.

At the same time, the Government cannot avoid considering the matter. Hence, DPM Teo set up the ministerial committee to consider issues in connection with 38, Oxley Road. Like any other ministerial committee, it reports to the Cabinet, except that in this matter, it is Cabinet minus PM for the reason stated above.


4. CAN WE DEMOLISH THE HOUSE NOW?

No, because Dr Lee Wei Ling is still living there. Mr Lee's wish, as expressed in the seventh will, is that the house should not be demolished so long as Dr Lee is still living there.

The Government has said that it will not do anything to the House while Dr Lee is still living there.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said that: "My sister is living there and has every intention to live a long life."

There is, therefore, no need to make a decision on demolition now. It may be decades before a definite decision needs to be taken. The Cabinet, at that time, will have to make the decision. Most of the current Cabinet ministers are unlikely to be in Cabinet then.

The writer is Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance.










Identify lawyer who drafted Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final will: Indranee
Lee Hsien Yang had indicated he knew who the person was, she says
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 25 Jun 2017

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday 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.

Yesterday 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 last 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."











Was Lee Kuan Yew rushed into signing his last will?

PM Lee Hsien Loong releases summary of statutory declarations to ministerial committee looking into options for Oxley Road house - 15 June 2017

PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for damage to Singapore caused by family dispute over Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road

Mr Lee Kuan Yew and 38 Oxley Road

38 Oxley Road: Symbol of the Singapore story

PM Lee Hsien Loong Ministerial Statement on "Alleged Abuse of Power on 38 Oxley Road" in Parliament on 3 July 2017

38 Oxley Road debate in Parliament:
Day 1 - 3 July 2017
Day 2 - 4 July 2017




Statement by DPM Teo Chee Hean on Ministerial Committee - 17 June 2017

Statement by PM Lee Hsien Loong on 38 Oxley Road - 19 June 2017

Ministerial Statement by PM Lee Hsien Loong on "Alleged Abuse of Power on 38 Oxley Road" - 3 July 2017

Ministerial Statement by DPM Teo Chee Hean on the Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road - 3 July 2017

Closing Statement by PM Lee Hsien Loong on the Ministerial Statements on 38 Oxley Road - 4 July 2017

Closing Statement by DPM Teo Chee Hean on the Ministerial Statements on 38 Oxley Road - 4 July 2017

Oxley Road Dispute

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