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PM Lee discloses disquiet over Lee Kuan Yew's last will
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday raised serious questions on 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 that 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, Wei Ling and Hsien Yang, over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road. In it, PM Lee also questioned if Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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 spilled into the public sphere on Wednesday, when PM Lee's siblings released a statement saying that they had lost confidence in him and feared the use of state organs against them.
The siblings alleged that PM Lee and his wife, Ho Ching, wanted the house preserved for their own political gain, and said that 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 that 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 that she wished to continue living in the house.
PM Lee recounted that during the reading, Mrs Lee Suet Fern volunteered that Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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.
He later learnt that Mrs Lee had e-mailed Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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 that 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 Kuan Yew to sign it.
He noted that 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 that Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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 that he had hoped to avoid a public fight which would tarnish the name and reputation of Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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 that 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."
Meanwhile, Mr Lee Hsien Yang has also presented a series of statements to show discrepancies between what PM Lee says in public and in private.
Deciding what to do with the house
In Public: PM Lee states in Parliament: "There is no immediate issue of demolition of the house, and no need for the Government to make a decision now."
In Private: A "secret" committee of ministers is set up to investigate and make recommendations about the house. Official media now says LHL (PM Lee Hsien Loong) is "not involved".
In Public: Probate for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will is granted on Oct 6, 2015. The will is recognised as final and legally binding. LHL raises no legal challenge.
In Private: LHL writes to the secret committee claiming "there is no evidence that Mr Lee even knew that the demolition clause had been re-inserted into the last will". LHL swears this under oath (a statutory declaration).
LKY's position on the house
In Public: LHL quotes the demolition clause in Parliament, and then says, "Mr Lee's position on 38 Oxley Road was unwavering over the years, and fully consistent with his lifelong values" (April 2015).
In Private: LHL tells his committee: "Mr Lee then took a number of steps which put beyond any doubt that he came to accept Cabinet's position."
PM Lee's position on the house
In Public: LHL writes on Facebook, I "hope the Government will allow the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wish for the demolition of the house to be honoured."'
In Private: LHL tells his committee: "He (Lee Kuan Yew) would accept any decision to preserve it." THE STRAITS TIMES