Disciplinary Tribunal finds Lee Suet Fern guilty of misconduct in handling founding PM Lee Kuan Yew’s last will
Lee Suet Fern found guilty of grossly improper professional conduct over handling of LKY’s last will
K.C. VijayanSenior Law Correspondent
A Disciplinary Tribunal has found prominent lawyer Lee Suet Fern guilty of grossly improper professional conduct in her handling of the last will of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister.
Her actions were of sufficient gravity that the matter will be referred to the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body to deal with lawyers’ misconduct.
If found guilty, Mrs Lee, 61, the wife of Mr Lee’s younger son Hsien Yang, could face a fine, suspension or could be disbarred as a lawyer.
The two-man tribunal appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon described Mrs Lee as a “deceitful witness, who tailored her evidence to portray herself as an innocent victim who had been maligned”.
This was a “facade”, the tribunal said. “Before us, she lied or became evasive whenever she thought it was to her benefit to lie or evade.”
Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s conduct was “equally deceitful”, the tribunal said in its 206-page report released last week.
“He tried to hide how he and his wife had misled his own father, Mr Lee, on the last will. He had no qualms about making up evidence as he went along. We found him to be cynical about telling the truth.”
The matter centres on the role Mrs Lee played in the preparation and execution of Mr Lee’s last will signed on Dec 17, 2013.
Mr Lee died on March 23, 2015 at the age of 91.
The tribunal said the facts exposed an “unsavoury tale” of how the couple persuaded Mr Lee – then 90 and in poor health having been recently hospitalised for serious medical conditions – to sign a new will without his usual lawyer to advise him.
“They cut off that lawyer from communications with Mr Lee on the last will, and rushed through the execution of the last will, in her absence,” the report said.
How founding PM Lee Kuan Yew’s last will was executed in 16 hours
Lawyer Lee Suet Fern has been found guilty by a disciplinary tribunal of grossly improper professional conduct in her handling of the last will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister and her father-in-law.
Her case will be referred to the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body to deal with lawyers’ misconduct, and she could face a fine, suspension or be disbarred as a lawyer.
Here’s a look at how the will was executed in 16 hours.
October 2010 to November 2012
Madam Kwa Geok Choo, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wife, died at the age of 89 on Oct 2, 2010. Thereafter, and before his last will in December 2013, Mr Lee executed six other wills.
Ms Kwa Kim Li, a partner in the law firm Lee & Lee, who is also Madam Kwa’s niece, was his lawyer. She drafted all six wills and retained the original copies.
Mr Lee discussed the first will with his family and worked with Ms Kwa on it. He also discussed changes to his penultimate will with her over a period of time.
The wills were executed on:
• First will: Aug 20, 2011
• Second will: Dec 21, 2011
• Third will: Sept 6, 2012
• Fourth will: Sept 20, 2012
• Fifth will: Oct 4, 2012
• Sixth (penultimate) will: Nov 2, 2012
Mrs Lee Suet Fern – the lawyer wife of Mr Lee’s younger son Hsien Yang – had made drafting suggestions to Ms Kwa on the first will, with Mr Lee’s approval, the Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) said.
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