The Lee Family Saga Has Turned Into A Battle Of Lawyers Over The Last Will

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Lee family saga is now a drawn-out lawyer battle

Late Thursday (June 15) night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) released an almost-4,000 word statutory declaration in rebuttal of the recent allegations made against him. Just like his siblings, he’s chosen to release it via Facebook.

According to this definition, a Statutory Declaration is:

A statement made to declare something to be true and this statement can be made voluntarily in relation to any matter or for the purposes of satisfying some legal requirement or regulation. The statement is not a sworn statement.

Basically, a Statutory Declaration can be used for or against you in a legal setting. Intentionally making a false statement in a Statutory Declaration is punishable by law.

Therefore, PM  Lee’s statement has legal credibility. In the declaration, new names were thrown into the fray.

More specifically, it shows at least four lawyers were involved in process of preparing and delivering LKY’s Last Will.

Which means what was previously a “family affair”, has now turned into a battle between the lawyers. Let’s take a look at what the parties are contesting.

The Main Difference In The 7 Wills

According to PM Lee, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) had his first 6 wills out of 7 prepared by Ms Kwa Kim Li (KKL) — LKY’s personal lawyer.

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KKL is the niece of Madam Kwa Geok Choo (LKY’s wife) and is a Managing Partner at Lee & Lee Law Firm.

Under the First Will, PM Lee, Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) and Dr Lee Wei Ling (LLW) were entitled to an equal share of his estate, but under the Sixth Will, Dr LWL had an extra share.

On 16 December 2013 at 7.08pm the wife of LHY, Mrs Lee Suet Fern (LFF) emailed LKY and cc’ed it to LHY and KKL. An attached file named <LAST_WILL-LKY-Draft of 19 August 2011.DOC> was allegedly attached.

The email stated:

Dear Papa

This was the original agreed (First) Will which ensures that all 3 children receive equal shares, taking into account the relative valuations (as at the date of demise) of the properties each receives.

Kim Li

Grateful if you could please engross.

LHY replied to the email after 23 minutes at 7.31pm, removing KKL as an addressee and adding Ms Wong Lin Hoe (LKY’s Private Secretary) into the ‘cc’ list:

Pa

I couldn’t get in touch with Kim Li. I believe she is away. I don’t think it is wise to wait till she is back. I think all you need is a witness to sign the will. Fern can get one of her partners to come round with an engrossed copy of the will to execute and witness. They can coordinate it with Lin Hoe for a convenient time.

PM Lee stated that KKL told LSF that she didn’t receive LSF’s email and expressed confusion as to why LHY felt there was an urgency to this issue.

LSF then sent an email to WLH that same night at 8.12pm, before LKY responded. The email was cc’ed to LHY and Mr Bernard Lui (BL), a lawyer from her law firm (currently known as Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC).

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WLH was told she could contact BL directly to plan for a signing of the will.

LKY agreed to LHY’s suggestions via email at 9.42pm that same night. He did not wait for KKL and signed the new will the next morning.

Signing Of The Last Will

Two lawyers, BL and Elizabeth Kong (EK) from Stamford Law Corporation were sent by LSF to obtain LKY’s signature for the Last Will.

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PM Lee claims they were only present for 15 minutes — from 11.05am to 11.20am. He suggested they only came to witness the signing of the Last Will and not to provide advice.

PM Lee’s Suspicions

LKY’s Last Will was read out on 12 April 2015, about 3 weeks after he had passed away. Apart from his three children, two lawyers from LSF’s law firm was present. They were BL and Mr Ng Joo Khin (NJK).

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NJK was revealed to be the man who prepared the Last Will, as LSF did not want to be involved.

But PM Lee wasn’t convinced:

I could not help but form the impression that this was all rehearsed, and wondered why these statements were made even when no questions had been raised about the validity of the Last Will.

After going through some family emails which dated back to 16 and 17 December 2013, PM Lee claimed that there was no evidence to suggest that NJK was involved in the preparation of LKY’s Last Will.

In point 37 of his Statutory Declaration he reiterated his suspicions:

I continue to have grave concerns about the events surrounding the making of the Last Will. I am not aware of any facts which suggest Mr Lee was informed or advised (by NJK, whom LSF claimed had handled the preparation of the Last Will, or any other lawyer) about all the changes that were made when he signed the Last Will, or that Mr Lee was properly advised about the contents of 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.

Lee Hsien Yang Says Otherwise

After reading PM Lee’s Statutory Declarations, LHY refuted with two Facebook posts of his own.

Firstly, LHY accused PM Lee of lying and revealed his side of the story.

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In his second post, which was uploaded 5 hours after the first, LHY claimed that KKL drafted the Last Will — meaning KKL drafted all 7 of LKY’s wills.

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Apparently, LKY was aware of the Demolition Clause and instructed KKL to add it into his will.

The two lawyers from Stamford Law, BL and EK, did not draft the will, but they were invited by LKY to witness the signing of the will.

Meanwhile, NJK was said to have merely read the will to the beneficiaries and did not prepare the will.

Dispute Over Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will

The Lee family dispute is just getting more and more complicated by the second, and it’s impossible for the public to know what the truth really is.

All we can do is wait for more information to surface before we form any further opinions.

Read the full story here.

Featured Image from Sentosa, Chambers and Partners, Singapore Business Review and SIAS.

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