38 Oxley Road committee: Interest in Lee Kuan Yew's will confined to understanding his wishes, says Indranee

38 Oxley Road committee: Interest in Lee Kuan Yew's will confined to understanding his wishes, says Indranee

38 Oxley Road 2
38 Oxley Road. (Photo: Howard Law)

SINGAPORE: The interest of the 38 Oxley Road ministerial committee in the will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is confined to trying to understand his thinking on the house, said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah on Saturday (Jun 24).

In a Facebook post titled "4 Further Things You Should Know About the Oxley Dispute", Ms Indranee pointed out that demolition clause was in his first four wills, but was removed in his fifth and sixth wills, and reinserted in his seventh and final 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?" Ms Indranee wrote.

"The interest of the ministerial committee in the will is confined to trying to understand his thinking on the house."

LAWYER DRAFTING WILL NEEDS TO BE INDEPENDENT: INDRANEE

Under Singapore law, whoever drafted the last will is required to be independent, said Ms Indranee.

"If the lawyer has an interest in the will, the lawyer must make sure the person making the will gets independent advice," she explained.

"In the seventh will, Dr Lee Wei Ling's extra share was reduced and the three 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 seventh will, then the question which will arise is what independent advice MM received?" Ms Indranee wrote, referring to Mr Lee Kuan Yew by his position as Minister Mentor. 

She also pointed to a Facebook post by Mr Lee Hsien Yang which claimed his father gave "express instructions" that his final in 2013 will be a reversion to his first will of 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 wrote on Jun 17. 

To that, Ms Indranee said Mr Lee has not specified who "we" referred to in his post. "If the lawyer referred to in 'we' is Mrs Lee Suet Fern, then certain questions will arise," Ms Indranee wrote.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the late Mr Lee's eldest son, had expressed "grave concerns" about the events surrounding the making of his father's last will. 

In a summary of his statutory declaration to the ministerial committee that was made public last Thursday, PM Lee said: "There are serious doubts about whether Mr Lee was properly and independently advised on the contents of the last will before he signed it."

PM Lee questioned the role that his brother's wife, lawyer Lee Suet Fern, played in drafting the final will, and said they gave Mr Lee Kuan Yew the impression that the changes to his will would only reinstate the equal division of his estate among the three children.

"INSULT TO A GREAT MAN": LEE HSIEN YANG

About an hour after her Facebook post, Mr Lee Hsien Yang responded on his own page, saying it is "an insult to a great man" for PM Lee's ministers to "repeat his insinuations" that Lee Kuan Yew - a Cambridge-educated lawyer - did not understand his own will.

He said that the last will was "no more than a reversion" to the 2011 will on the late founding prime minister's instructions, reiterating that the last will is final and legally binding since probate has been granted. 

"The proper place for Lee Hsien Loong to challenge his father's will was in court," he added. 

The very public spat among the three children of the late Mr Lee began when PM Lee's siblings issued a statement in the wee hours of Jun 14, accusing him of abusing his position in Government to deal with matters concerning their childhood home, amongst other allegations.

PM Lee had said earlier this week that as he would like to move on, the "baseless accusations" against the Government cannot be left unanswered, and must be dealt with openly. He said he will refute the charges in a ministerial statement when Parliament sits on Jul 3.

Source: CNA/nc/gs

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