Stamford Law did not draft any will of the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, said his youngest son Mr Lee Hsien Yang on Friday (Jun 16), as the dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings drags on.
Mr Lee told Channel NewsAsia in an email reply that his father’s last will was drafted by Ms Kwa Kim Li of Lee & Lee, who had prepared his previous wills.
Mr Lee was elaborating on his Facebook post which said contrary to PM Lee’s claims, he and his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling had replied to a ministerial committee’s questions about how the last will was prepared and the role his wife Mrs Lee Suet Fern and lawyers from her legal firm had in preparing that will.
According to Mr Lee, their reply to the committee on Feb 28 stated: “The Final Will was not drafted by Stamford Law Corporation or Mr Ng Joo Khin, and Lee Hsien Loong’s claimed recollection to that effect is clearly erroneous.”
This contradicts what PM Lee had said in his statutory declaration to the ministerial committee that was made public on Thursday.
In it, PM Lee said his brother’s wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, mentioned at the reading of the last will on Apr 12, 2015, that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had asked her to prepare the will. But as she did not want to get personally involved, she had gotten Mr Ng Joo Khin from her law firm, Stamford Law, to handle it. The law firm is now known as Morgan Lewis Stamford following the merger with Morgan Lewis & Bockius in 2005.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang added in his email reply to Channel NewsAsia that paragraph 7 of the last will was drafted at his father’s direction, and “put into language” by Lee Suet Fern. When the elder Mr Lee was satisfied, he asked (Kwa) Kim Li to insert it into his will, said Mr Lee Hsien Yang.
“On LKY’s express instructions in writing, two lawyers from Stamford Law were called upon to witness his signing of the will,” Mr Lee said in his reply, which was also posted on his Facebook page on Friday.
“The Estate of LKY instructed Stamford Law to extract probate. Ng Joo Khin’s role in that was to read the will to the beneficiaries.”
Paragraph 7 of the last will relates to the late founding prime minister’s wish to have the Oxley Road home demolished immediately after his death, or after his daughter Dr Lee moves out.
“TROUBLING CIRCUMSTANCES” SURROUNDING LAST WILL: PM LEE
However, PM Lee raised concerns about when the clause about his father’s wish to have the house torn down was inserted.
According to PM Lee in his statutory declaration, the demolition clause first appeared in the first will that was made on Aug 20, 2011, but his father then gave instructions to remove the clause from the fifth and sixth will. “However, it somehow found its way back into the Last Will,” said PM Lee.
PM Lee also laid out the “troubling circumstances” surrounding the preparation of his father’s last will. “There are serious doubts about whether Mr Lee was properly and independently advised on the contents of the Last Will before he signed it,” said PM Lee.
To this, Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said the last will is “final and legally binding” and that his elder brother had “raised no legal challenge to Lee Kuan Yew’s will in the many months after it was read”.
The ongoing dispute between the siblings spilled into the public sphere on Wednesday when Mr Lee and his sister Dr Lee issued a joint six-page statement on their Facebook pages, saying that they have lost confidence in their brother and that they did not trust him. PM Lee, in response, said he was very disappointed that they chose to issue a statement publicising private family matters, and denied the allegations they made.