SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had "grave concerns" about the events surrounding the making of his father Lee Kuan Yew's last will, which stated his wish for his house to be demolished, he told a ministerial committee in a statutory declaration.
PM Lee on Thursday (Jun 15) made public through his lawyers, a summary of the statutory declaration he had submitted to the internal ministerial committee that was set up by the Cabinet to consider options for the late Mr Lee’s house at 38 Oxley Road.
In a cover note to the statutory declaration, PM Lee said he had to explain the "serious questions" he had about how his father's last will was prepared, as it has become "untenable" for him not to respond publicly given his siblings' continued allegations.
"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.
He stated: "Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang claim that Mr Lee was not prepared to consider any option other than the demolition of the House. For that they rely heavily on the insertion of the Demolition Clause in the Last Will. In light of the troubling circumstances set out above, I believe it is necessary to go beyond the Last Will in order to establish what Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking and wishes were in relation to the house."
PM Lee said the late Mr Lee had made six wills before his last will that was dated Dec 17, 2013. All of the wills, except the last, was prepared by Ms Kwa Kim Li, the siblings' cousin.
"I learnt about the contents of the Last Will only on Apr 12, 2015, when the last will was read to the family," said PM Lee in the declaration. "Only then was I able to review and compare the terms and changes between those wills and the Last Will."
At issue was when a clause about the late Mr Lee's wishes to have the Oxley Road home demolished was inserted in the wills.
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.
The Prime Minister added that under the first will, Mr Lee gave each of his three children an equal share of his estate, but made changes in his sixth will on Nov 2, 2012 to give Dr Lee an extra share.
On Dec 16, 2013 - a day before the date of the last will - Mr Lee Hsien Yang emailed his father, saying he could not get in touch with Ms Kwa who had prepared the previous wills, and that it was not wise to wait until she got back, PM Lee said. Mr Lee Hsien Yang told his father that his wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, and lawyers from her legal firm could instead arrange for changes to the will to be signed, the Prime Minister added.
On the morning of Dec 17, Mrs Lee sent two lawyers to the Oxley Road home to procure Mr Lee Kuan Yew's signature on the last will. According to the statutory declaration, the lawyers arrived at 11.05am and left at 11.20am.
"They were present at 38 Oxley Road for 15 minutes only, including the time for logging into and out from the property. The time taken to execute the Last Will would have been even less. They plainly came only to witness Mr Lee signing the Last Will and not to advise him," PM Lee stated.
He noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife did not copy him or his sister on the email correspondence he had with their father on Dec 16 and 17 regarding the making and signing of the last will.
He added that his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, had "grave suspicions" about the change of shares in the last will, and had “wondered whether (Hsien) Yang pulled a fast one”.
PM Lee said his father was given the impression by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife that the new will would only change the division of shares, with each child receiving an equal share like in the first will.
"Yet, the Last Will that Lee Suet Fern and her law firm prepared and got Mr Lee to sign went beyond that," said PM Lee in the statutory declaration. "Significantly, they re-inserted the Demolition Clause, even though that clause does not appear to have been discussed at the time of the making of the Last Will and had in fact been removed by Mr Lee from his immediately prior two wills."
MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON 38 OXLEY ROAD
The existence of the ministerial committee was confirmed on Wednesday by Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong.
He said that as part of the committee’s work, it sought the views of all three of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s children, to ask if they wished to say anything about the late Mr Lee’s thinking in respect of the Oxley Road home, beyond what has already been stated in public.
Both Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had been invited to put their response by way of statutory declaration as PM Lee did, but they have not responded to date, said Mr Tan.
He added that PM Lee has not been involved in the committee’s discussions, and that his views were sought “in his personal capacity, given his position as Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s eldest son and his interest as a beneficiary of the estate.”
PM Lee’s siblings, as joint executors and trustees of the late Mr Lee‘s will, want the Government to honour his wish, as stated in his last will to demolish the house immediately after his death, or after Dr Lee moves out.
On Wednesday, they made a series of allegations against PM Lee, accusing their brother of abusing his powers and saying they had "lost confidence" in his leadership. They claimed that PM Lee opposed their father's wish to demolish the house, alleging that he has an incentive to preserve the house “to inherit (Lee Kuan Yew’s) credibility”.
Prime Minister Lee has rejected the claims of his siblings, saying their statement has "hurt" their father's legacy.