It’s already a couple of weeks plus since the Oxley Road affair broke, but it already feels like forever.
While Singapore waits another week plus for the Parliament session on 3rd July 2017 (where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is supposed to answer questions from MPs regarding the 38 Oxley Road dispute), there are some questions surrounding the 7th and last will which have not been answered.
Indranee Rajah recently highlighted these questions in a Facebook post (see the copied text below).
These questions obviously cannot be answered by PM Lee (it must have been bugging him for a couple of years now), because he wasn’t involved in the drafting and witnessing the signing of the last will.
Whilst the questions are about facts (and a bit on the implications of the answers), Lee Hsien Yang got really offended on his dad’s behalf, responding that it is an insult to a great man.
But Lee Hsien Yang, nor the other people involved in the drafting and signing of the last will, have shared insights on the following questions below.
I’ve created a convenient MCQ format to illustrate how simple the expected answers can be.
1.Who prepared the 7th (aka last) will?
A. Ng Joo Khin – because Lee Suet Fern said: Ng Joo Khin from my law firm [ie Stamford Law] did it
B. Kwa Kim Lee – because Lee Hsien Yang said: no la, not Stamford Law, it was Kwa Kim Li of Lee and Lee
C. Someone else – because Kwa Kim Lee said: not me hor
To reveal the name of the lawyer involved, why so messy?
2. Did Lee Kuan Yew know that there was a demolition clause in the 7th will before he signed it?
It doesn’t matter if he’s educated in Cambridge or not. It’s a simple yes or no question. Because whoever present at the signing would have to explain and point the amendments etc out to Lee Kuan Yew, no?
3. Who was present at his signing of the 7th will?
A. lawyers from Stamford Law
B. other peeps
Just another bunch of names, raise your hand if you were there, just like roll call.
4. Did he have independent advice on his last will?
I don’t think it’s about insulting Lee Kuan Yew or whatever, it’s just good record-keeping by bureaucrats (which is what they’re supposed to do with their 1001 SOPs).
And if we expect clear answers from PM Lee on 3 July, I think the same applies to all the relevant parties involved.
If you’re interested to read in full the questions raised by Indranee Rajah, and the response by Lee Hsien Yang, here goes:
4 Further Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute (Facebook post by Indranee Rajah)
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.
Facebook Post by Lee Hsien Yang in response:
Lee Hsien Loong is now getting his ministers to repeat his insinuations that Lee Kuan Yew 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.
The 2013 will was no more than a reversion to the 2011 will on Lee Kuan Yew’s instructions. Probate has been granted on Lee Kuan Yew’s will, so it is final and legally binding. The proper place for Lee Hsien Loong to challenge his father’s will was in court.
Jules lives and works in Singapore. She writes on her blog about her experiences being a working woman in Singapore, and hopes to discuss and further the interests of women here. Her blog features a wide variety of posts about work, education, parenting, travel, world politics and local issues.