Author Sudhir defends e-book on Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will after criticism by Senior Minister Teo

Author Sudhir defends e-book on Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will after criticism by Senior Minister Teo

Singaporean author Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh has responded to comments made by Senior Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean regarding his e-book, “The Battle Over Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will.”

In a written parliamentary question by People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, Mr Teo criticized the book as being “not credible” and “calculated to mislead,” and accused Mr Sudhir of ignoring established facts and findings in the case.

Mr Teo stated, “Mr Sudhir comes to the surprising conclusion that the judgments clear Mrs Lee Suet Fern (LSF) and Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) of ‘all suspicion of improper motives or manipulations.’ It is clear that the assertions in his book are calculated to mislead.”

In a response via a blog post, Mr Sudhir defended his book, stating, “It is a product of a year of research by my team of researchers and me. It does not include any primary interviews because I didn’t want to interview only a select few family members. I believed that would be a biased approach.”

He further explained that his book was based almost entirely on the compilation of affidavits, pleadings, formal documents, and submissions from the Law Society of Singapore versus Lee Suet Fern case.

Mr Sudhir stated that the Supreme Court had approved his request to access the case file specifically for this book, and added that his book was exhaustively footnoted and available for free download.

Mr Sudhir disputed Mr Teo’s claims, stating, “Some of my main conclusions, based on the available evidence, are that Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) wanted his entire house at 38 Oxley Road demolished—nothing else—but he was aware that it might not be. The following people have been unfairly judged in this matter by their respective public critics: Ho Ching and Lee Suet Fern, Lee Kuan Yew’s daughters-in-law; as well as Lee Wei Ling (LWL) and Lee Hsien Yang. The formation and findings of the Ministerial Committee on 38 Oxley Road (MC) are, in my view, problematic.”

Mr Sudhir acknowledged that his findings may be inconvenient for Mr Teo, as they exonerated Ho Ching and were critical of the actions of the Ministerial Committee, which Mr Teo had headed.

He urged Singaporeans to read the book and make up their own minds about its editorial rigour and impartiality with the material.

Regarding Mr Teo’s claims that he had ignored established facts and findings, Mr Sudhir stated, “I urge readers to go to pages 28-29 of my book, where I lay out clearly the Court of Three Judges’ findings, including the alleged inaccuracies offered by LHY and LSF.”

He also pointed out that Mr Teo had omitted salient facts, such as an email from LWL that suggested that LKY had wanted the demolition clause in his last will.

The email from LWL wrote, “Papa says go back to 2011 will”. (The so-called First Will, including the clause. Pages 35 and 70 of the e-book.)

“Singaporeans can ask themselves why Teo has chosen to ignore LWL’s words. Though the answer may not be obvious. It still isn’t clear to me why this house seems to matter so much to a few,” wrote Mr Sudhir.

“Perhaps they are clinging to whatever they can.”

Continued persecution of his family, says LHY

The background to this controversy is complex. It centres around a dispute among the children of LKY, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister and co-founder of PAP, over the fate of his house at 38 Oxley Road.

LKY had reportedly wanted the house demolished after his death as a clause of it was carried in his last will, but his son Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) had argued that this was not his true intention and that he was open to the idea of having it preserved. LHL also formed a ministerial committee to contest LKY’s will despite it having probate granted.

LHY and Lee Wei Ling had accused their brother of abusing his power as Singapore’s Prime Minister to preserve the house, allegations which LHL denied and defended in a parliamentary session.

Soon after the confrontation between the two siblings and the Prime Minister, Li Shengwu, son of Lee Hsien Yang, was prosecuted by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) – headed by LHL’s former lawyer who dealt with the 38 Oxley property – for contempt. After three years of legal proceedings, Li was found guilty by the court.

In 2020, LSF was suspended from legal practice for 15 months by the Court of Three Judges after it agreed with the Disciplinary Tribunal’s finding that she had engaged in grossly improper professional conduct. LSF denied the allegations, saying that the case was based on a private will and that there was no basis for the prosecution – which was spurred by a complaint from the AGC.

Most recently, as revealed by Mr Teo in his parliamentary reply, the police have launched investigations into LHY and LSF for allegedly giving false evidence in judicial proceedings.

LHY has accused the Singaporean authorities of continuing to persecute his family in a Facebook post on Thursday.

The controversy surrounding LKY’s last will has been a topic of intense public interest and scrutiny in Singapore.

The case has raised questions about the legacy of the late LKY and the wider issue of governance and accountability, particularly in a country that prides itself on its political stability and the rule of law.

The controversy is especially pertinent given how Singapore is set to celebrate LKY’s 100th birthday while his family continues to fight from beyond his grave.

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