In a Facebook post that was published on Friday late evening, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Law, Ms Indranee Rajah questioned the last will of late Lee Kuan Yew.
Ms Indranee raised several points of contention in regards to the last will of LKY especially on how the last will came about, who drafted the last will and how LKY got to sign the will.
Listing the sequence of events on the day that the last will was signed, she asked, “did he have enough time to read through and absorb the contents of the 7th Will? Could he have done so in just 5 minutes? Was he aware that the Demolition Clause had been reinserted? The emails of the previous day did not mention the Demolition Clause.”
Just earlier, Ms Indranee also posted about how LKY did not insist on having his house at 38 Oxley Road demolished after his passing by citing the second part of the demolition clause.
At 11.20pm, just an hour odd after Ms Indranee’s posting, LHY posted a post stating that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is getting his ministers to repeat his insinuations that LKY did not understand his own will.
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 initialed beneath the demolition clause, without understanding what it meant in plain English.
“This is an insult to a great man.” wrote LHY and highlighted that the 2013 will was no more than a reversion to the 2011 will on LKY’s instructions. LHY noted that probate has been granted on LKY’s will, so it is final and legally binding.
LHY wrote, “The proper place for Lee Hsien Loong to challenge his father’s will was in court.”
In the joint statement that was published on 14 June, the two siblings, LHY and Dr Lee Lee Weiling wrote,
“In 2015, various letters were sent by Hsien Loong’s then personal lawyer making accusations and misrepresentations on his behalf regarding the circumstances under 4 which Lee Kuan Yew’s last will was executed and the inclusion of the demolition wish. These were refuted in detail by us through our lawyers. Hsien Loong knew that he could not establish his accusations in a court of law and raised no legal challenge. On the contrary, he was likely concerned that the fact that the gift of the house to him had been obtained by him through misrepresentations to our father and the family might be made public. Probate was granted on 6 October 2015 and Lee Kuan Yew’s will, including the wish to demolish 38 Oxley Road, became the full, final, and legally binding word on his intentions as to his estate. “
Below is the full comment made by Ms Indranee which she entitled, “Further Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute”
As I explained yesterday, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not simply insist his house be demolished once he was gone.
First, he said his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling should be allowed to live in the house for as long as she wished. This means that the question of demolition may not arise for many more years.
Second, the late Mr Lee provided for the possibility of the government deciding to preserve the house, in which case he asked that the house not be opened to others except his descendants.
Today, I would like to look at the last Will – or the “7th Will”. How did it come to be? Why is this in contention and what are the issues?
1. How many Wills did Mr Lee make and what’s the difference between them?
Mr Lee made 7 Wills.
– 1st Will – this had a Demolition Clause. Each child got an equal share of the estate.
– 2nd – 4th Wills – these had the Demolition Clause.
– 5th Will – Demolition Clause was removed.
– 6th Will – No Demolition Clause. Dr Lee Wei Ling was given an extra share of the estate relative to her brothers.
– 7th Will – Demolition Clause reinserted. The extra share for Dr Lee Wei Ling removed. It reverted back to equal shares for each child.
The first 6 will were prepared by Ms Kwa Kim Li of M/S Lee & Lee.
2. What concerns have been raised about the 7th Will?
The concerns raised about the 7th Will can be found in the summary of Lee Hsien Loong’s Statutory Declarations. Essentially, they relate to whether the reinsertion of the Demolition Clause was brought to Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s attention and whether he was given sufficient time to review the Will.
They can be summarised as follows:
– at 7.08 pm on 16 Dec 2013, Mrs Lee Suet Fern sent an email to the late Mr Lee copied to Lee Hsien Yang and Kwa Kim Li attaching a draft Will. The cover email says:
This was the original agreed 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.
Grateful if you could please engross.”
No mention is made of the Demolition Clause.
– 23 minutes later at 7.31 pm, Lee Hsien Yang said he could not get in touch with Kwa Kim Li and that it was not wise to wait till she was back. Lee Suet Fern would send a lawyer from her firm with an engrossed will for signing. Kwa Kim Li was dropped from the email circulation list.
– at 8.12 pm, before any reply from Mr Lee was received, Lee Suet Fern emailed MM’s PA that Mr Bernard Lui, the one of the Lawyers from her firm, Stamford Law Corporation, had the will ready for execution. The will seems to have been prepared in 41 minutes.
– at 9.42 pm, the Mr Lee replied that since Lee Hsien Yang said he could not contact Kwa Kim Li he agreed not to wait and would sign the new will.
– the next day on 17 Dec at 11.05 am 2 lawyers from Stamford Law arrived at 38 Oxley Road. They stayed for 15 minutes, logging out at 11.20 am – this presumably would include the time it would take too get from the guardhouse to Mr Lee’s room in the house and back. Mr Lee Hsien Yang in his FB post says that the Will was signed at 11.10 am. Assuming it took 5 minutes to get from the gate to Mr Lee’s room, and another 5 minutes to get back to the gate, this would mean Mr Lee had only 5 minutes to read and sign the 7th Will.
So the questions are:
– did he have enough time to read through and absorb the contents of the 7th Will?
– could he have done so in just 5 minutes?
– was he aware that the Demolition Clause had been reinserted? The emails of the previous day did not mention the Demolition Clause.
3. Why is this relevant from a government perspective?
As DPM Teo has explained, the Ministerial Committee wants to understand what Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking on the House was. This includes considering what Mr Lee said about the House in his will.
The Demolition Clause was in the 1st – 4th Wills. It was removed in the 5th and 6th Will. So Mr Lee had changed his mind once.
The question is whether he changed it a second time?
Or whether the Demolition Clause was inserted without his awareness?
The interest of the Ministerial Committee in the Will is confined to trying to understand his thinking on the House
4. Which Lawyer drafted the 7th Will?
So far no lawyer has owned to drafting the 7th Will.
In Lee Hsien Loong’s summary he said that at the reading of the last Will:
“[Lee Suet Fern] volunteered that Mr Lee had asked her to prepare the Last Will but that she had not wanted to get personally involved and had therefore gotten [ Ng Joo Khin] from her law firm [ie Stamford Law] to handle the preparation of the Last Will”….[Ng Joo Khin did not dispute [Lee Suet Fern’s] account that he had handled the preparation of the Last Will.”
However, on 16 June 2017, Mr Lee Hsien Yang posted on FB that: “Stamford Law did not draft any will for LKY. The will was drafted by Kwa Kim Li of Lee and Lee.”
That same night Ms Kwa Kim Lee informed the media that she did not draft the 7th Will.
In a further FB post Mr Lee Hsien Yang said that: “Lee Kuan Yew’s final will of December 2013 was engrossed on the basis of Lee Kuan Yew’s express instruction to revert to his first will from 2011. On the basis of this instruction 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.”
Mr Lee Hsien Yang has not identified who the “we” referred to in the second post is.
If the lawyer referred to in “we” is Mrs Lee Suet Fern, then certain questions will arise. 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.
In the 7th Will, Dr Lee Wei Ling’s extra share was reduced and the 3 children were given equal shares i.e. Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased. As Mrs Lee Suet Fern is his wife, if she prepared the 7th Will then the question which will arise is what independent advice MM received?
If “we” does not refer to any lawyer, then it remains a mystery which lawyer drafted or prepared the 7th Will.