In a span of several hours, Mr Lee Hsien Yang came out twice on Friday (June 16) to rebut Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s concerns over the role his wife Mrs Lee Suet Fern and her law firm, Stamford Law, played in the drafting of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wills.
In his first post on Facebook, early on Friday morning, he stated that Stamford Law did not draft his father’s Last Will. He said his brother’s “claimed recollection to that effect is clearly erroneous”, adding, “LHL’s (Lee Hsien Loong’s) secret committee ignored it”.
Before ending the post with a question – “besides, we thought this was a ‘private family matter?’, a reference to the PM’s earlier statement that the airing of the feud had saddened him – Mr Lee Hsien Yang also said both he and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, had already responded to a ministerial committee’s questions on how the Last Will was prepared, and the role played by Mrs Lee Suet Fern and Stamford Law in it.
Calling the PM’s assertion “a lie”, he said they had responded on Feb 28.
In a post several hours later, at 1.05pm, he went further, saying: “Stamford Law did not draft any will for LKY. The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee & Lee.”
Rebutting “grave concerns” raised by PM Lee on Thursday over the role played by his sister-in-law, Mrs Lee, and the potential conflict of interest on her part, the younger Mr Lee added: “Paragraph 7 of the Will was drafted at LKY's (Lee Kuan Yew’s) direction, and 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.”
The Stamford lawyers were called in to witness the signing of the will on express written instructions from his father, and it was Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s estate that had instructed the law firm to extract probate.
On the role of another lawyer mentioned by PM Lee in the edited summary of his statutory declarations – Ng Joo Khin – Mr Lee Hsien Yang said his role was to read the will to the beneficiaries.
Stamford Law formed a significant part in PM Lee’s statutory declarations, which were made to the ministerial committee looking into options for the family home at 38, Oxley Road. In them, Mr Lee said Mrs Lee Suet Fern had said that his father asked her to prepare his Last Will, but as she did not want to get personally involved, she got a lawyer from her firm of Stamford Law to do so instead.
The Last Will differed markedly from a previous version: It gave an equal share of the late Mr Lee’s estate to all of his children, and contained a clause stating that the founding PM wanted the Oxley Road house demolished after his death.
By contrast, the previous version of the will gave a larger share of the estate to Dr Lee Wei Ling, and did not contain the so-called demolition clause.
The latest posts continued the pushback from the Lee siblings following the release of the PM’s statutory declarations.
On Thursday night, Dr Lee Wei Ling posted several rebuttals on Facebook, accusing the PM and his wife, Madam Ho Ching, of being “mischievous and dishonest” by selectively using quotes from her out of context to suggest that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife were trying to cheat her out of their father’s final will.
The long-running feud over the fate of 38, Oxley Road spilled over on Wednesday, when Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling issued a six-page statement alleging that they felt "threatened" in their attempt to carry out their late father's wish to demolish their family home on 38 Oxley Road. That statement alleged persecution, and said that Mr Lee would be leaving Singapore "for the foreseeable future" as a result.
PM Lee denied their allegations, saying they saddened him and tarnished their father’s legacy. He and Madam Ho also rubbished claims that he had political ambitions for his son, Mr Li Hongyi, who later weighed in to state that he had no such designs.
On Friday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s son, Mr Li Shengwu, also weighed in. In a Facebook post at 3.44am, he wrote: "Not only do I intend never to go into politics, I believe that it would be bad for Singapore if any third-generation Lee went into politics. The country must be bigger than one family."