TL;DR – The tribunal described both the self-proclaimed obedient wife and her husband as “deceitful”.
Just when you thought we’re finally moving on from the dispute over 38 Oxley Road, the Disciplinary Tribunal recently released a report which accuses lawyer Lee Suet Fern, the wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, of her professional misconduct in the preparation and execution of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.
This report comes after the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) made a complaint to the Law Society in January 2019, questioning Lee Suet Fern’s involvement as a lawyer.
To save you from reading the 206-page report, here are what the tribunal has found, among other things, which points to Lee Suet Fern of being guilty in her handling of the will:
- Lee Suet Fern rushed through the last will with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and made him signed the will “urgently” while his lawyer Ms Kwa Kim Lee was away.
- Lee Suet Fern’s involvement in preparing the will despite her husband, Lee Hsien Yang stood to gain from the will – this is an act of conflict of interest.
- Lee Suet Fern misled Mr Lee Kuan Yew on the terms of the last will.
In this case, Lee Suet Fern’s actions will be referred to the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body to deal with lawyers’ misconduct.
And if found guilty, she could face a fine, suspension or could be disbarred as a lawyer.
Late Mr Lee was made to sign the will “urgently” without the presence of his usual lawyer
According to the tribunal’s findings, Lee Suet Fern, along with Lee Hsien Yang, younger son of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had persuaded the late Mr Lee, who was then 90 and in poor health, to sign a new will without his usual lawyer, Kwa Kim Li around to advise him.
Mr Lee’s first to sixth wills were all prepared by Kwa Kim Li, before Lee Suet Fern created a draft will for him, which became his seventh and final will.
The couple had intentionally cut off Kwa Kim Li from communications with Mr Lee Kuan Yew on the last will and rushed him through the execution of the last will, while Kwa Kim Li was away.
Changes reflected in the final will were not what Mr Lee had in mind
In December 2013, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had an e-mail exchange with his lawyer Kwa Kim Li on changes he wanted to be made to his sixth will.
Here are the two changes he instructed Kwa Kim Li to make through a codicil – or amendment – to what would be his penultimate will:
- To give his three children equal shares in his estate
- To bequeath two carpets, one silk and the other wool, to his younger son Lee Hsien Yang
However instead of the above two changes, what appeared in the final will were clauses which Mr Lee had previously deleted – including the demolition clause, as well as other changes he was not told about.
Besides the fact that the will had been signed in the absence of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s usual lawyer, the tribunal also found that Lee Suet Fern did not find out what Mr Lee agreed with Kwa Kim Li.
Neither did Lee Suet Fern confirm with Mr Lee that he indeed wanted to make the changes to the penultimate will nor did she check if there were any other changes he wanted to make.
Lee Suet Fern claps back
In response to the allegations, Lee Suet Fern, through a post published on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook page, said:
“I disagree with the Disciplinary Tribunal’s report and will fight this strongly when it is heard in open court. Any member of the public can obtain the entire record of the closed-door proceedings of the Tribunal from the Law Society. I urge the public to look at these and come to their own independent conclusions.”
For the benefit of those who are keen to get your hands on the full Judgement by the Disciplinary Tribunal, Facebook page Singapore Matters has obtained a record of the closed-door proceedings of the tribunal from the Disciplinary Tribunal Secretariat.
You can download the copy here and form your own independent conclusions, as Lee Suet Fern urges.