Singapore—Early on Monday morning, April 8, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang, took to social media to announce that his wife Lee Suet Fern, would be represented by former Singapore Attorney-General, Prof Walter Woon.
He wrote, “The AGC recently brought a complaint against my wife to the legal disciplinary tribunal. The complaint repeats allegations that Lee Hsien Loong made years ago through his personal lawyer, Lucien Wong, now the Attorney General.
Former Singapore Attorney-General, Prof Walter Woon, has agreed to act for my wife, Suet Fern. I am delighted to have him on board. We look forward to his legal guidance and wise counsel. He will further strengthen the defence team of Abraham Vergis and his team at Providence Law Asia.”
The case against Lee Suet Fern
On January 7, 2019, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) referred a case to the Law Society over possible misconduct by Lee Suet Fern, in the preparation of the last will of Lee Kuan Yew, her father-in-law and the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.
The case had nothing to do with the validity of the will, the AGC explained.
The AGC stated its statutory duty to deal with misconduct from lawyers, and under section 85(3) of the Legal Profession Act, the AGC said it was required to consider if the issue should be brought to the attention of the Law Society.
Lee Hsien Yang asked, via a Facebook post on January 10, what public interest was being served by the AGC. He also asked, since all parties had been aware of the facts for years, why his wife’s case was being “rushed” in 2019.
He asked the AGC to publish its full correspondence with Lee Suet Fern, claiming that the AGC’s statement that she had refused to respond to them is not true.
The AGC’s side
The Attorney General claimed, “In this case, AGC became aware of a possible case of professional misconduct by Ms Lee. Ms Lee appears to have prepared the Last Will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and arranged for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to execute it, despite the fact that her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, is one of the beneficiaries under the Last Will.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased under the Last Will. AGC also noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said publicly that the Last Will was drafted by Ms Kwa Kim Lee of M/s Lee & Lee. However, Ms Kwa Kim Lee has denied that she drafted it.”
Citing the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules, the AGC said that lawyers should not place themselves in a position of conflict. “Where a person intends to make a significant gift by will to any member of the lawyer’s family, the lawyer must not act for the person and must advise him to obtain independent advice in respect of the gift. This rule applies even if the lawyer is related to the person making the gift.”
Lee Hsien Yang’s responses to the AGC
However, Lee Hsien Yang denied that his wife had ever been Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer. He wrote, “My wife was never Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer. Our father’s private will was executed some 5 years ago. Our father informed his entire family and his lawyers at Lee & Lee when he completed his will and kept his will at Lee & Lee.
This was his re-signing of his 2011 will in which Minister Shanmugam was involved. Lee & Lee had been our father’s lawyers for all his wills since his first will in 1995. That first will was drafted by our mother, Kwa Geok Choo, who was then the principal beneficiary under our father’s will.
No one has complained from the outset on the process and circumstances of our father’s signing his final will – not Lee Kuan Yew, not his estate which stands in his shoes after his death, not any of the beneficiaries, including Lee Hsien Loong, who was advised by Lucien Wong, now AG. The will was proven in court in 2015 with no issues raised; all parties have acted in accordance with the will since then.”