Points of contention over Oxley Road house, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Points of contention over Oxley Road house

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday released through his lawyers an edited summary of what he told the ministerial committee in his statutory declarations about late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's will.

The committee has been tasked to look into options for the late Mr Lee's home at 38, Oxley Road.

Soon after PM Lee released the statement, his siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, posted counter arguments on their Facebook accounts.

Here are the main points raised:

1. How the clause to demolish the home re-appeared in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final will.

PM Lee: After seeing copies of all of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's seven wills, PM Lee said he reviewed the terms and changes between the earlier wills and the last one.

The demolition clause first appeared in the first will on Aug 20, 2011. But Mr Lee Kuan Yew later gave instructions for it to be removed from his fifth and sixth wills.

However, the clause somehow found its way back into the final will.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang's wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, in an e-mail to Mr Lee Kuan Yew had given the impression that the new will would only change the division of shares among his three children.

However, the demolition clause was re-inserted. There is also no evidence that Mr Lee Kuan Yew knew that the clause was re-inserted.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang: Mr Lee Kuan Yew must have known that the clause was re-inserted because he initialled his name right beneath the clause in his last will.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang also posted a picture of the will showing the clause with the initial.

2. Who helped Mr Lee Kuan Yew prepare his final will?

PM Lee: All of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's first six wills were prepared by his lawyer, Ms Kwa Kim Li. His final will was prepared by Mrs Lee Suet Fern and the partners in her law firm.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern was "clearly an interested party" in the estate and would have a conflict of interest.

The lawyers who witnessed Mr Lee Kuan Yew's signing of the final will were also from Mrs Lee Suet Fern's firm.

PM Lee also said that the lawyer from Mrs Lee Suet Fern's firm who said that he prepared the final will had not met or communicated with Mr Lee Kuan Yew on his final will.

3. Did Mr Lee Hsien Yang talk Mr Lee Kuan Yew out of giving Dr Lee an extra share in the inheritance?

PM Lee: Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave each of his three children an equal share of his estate in his first will. In the sixth will made on Nov 2, 2012, Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave Dr Lee an extra share.

But in the final will, every child got an equal share.

PM Lee said Dr Lee was suspicious that Mr Lee Kuan Yew changed his mind about giving her an extra share of his estate.

In an e-mail to PM Lee's wife, Madam Ho Ching, Dr Lee wondered whether Mr Lee Hsien Yang "pulled a fast one" and was "very upset that Yang did it to me".

I did not challenge the final will in court because I wanted the family dispute to be resolved amicably and privately and avoid a public fight. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee said his brother also told him that there "would have been big trouble" if Mr Lee Kuan Yew had not given each child an equal share.

Dr Lee: The quotes from the e-mail were taken out of context. She had previously told PM Lee that there was no duplicity by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern.

It was actually PM Lee and his wife who were upset that Mr Lee Kuan Yew said Dr Lee could continue to live in the Oxley Road home. They pushed and persuaded Mr Lee Kuan Yew to change his mind.

It was Mrs Lee Suet Fern who helped Dr Lee convince her father to allow her to continue living in the house.

4. Why did Mr Lee Hsien Yang want the family home demolished so quickly?

PM Lee: After the reading of the final will on April 12, 2015, Mr Lee Hsien Yang wanted the Oxley Road home to be immediately demolished.

But Dr Lee wanted to continue living in the house and the discussion on that ended.

PM Lee's father had left him the Oxley Road house, but he was prepared to sell it to Dr Lee for a nominal sum of $1.

This was on condition that if the property was later sold, or the Government should later decide to acquire the property, proceeds would go to charity.

But a resolution "proved impossible" with both Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang threatening to escalate their attacks against him coinciding with the 2015 General Election.

5. Why PM Lee did not challenge the final will in court.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang: PM Lee raised no legal challenge to the final will in the many months after it was read. Probate was granted in October 2015, so the will is full, final and legally binding.

He also questioned why PM Lee's public statement to Parliament contradicted the statutory declaration he made to the ministerial committee, and whether PM Lee believed that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was "unwavering in his wish that the house be demolished".

PM Lee: He did not challenge the final will in court because he wanted the family dispute to be resolved amicably and privately, avoiding a public fight.

It was also to avoid tarnishing Mr Lee Kuan Yew's name and the Lee family's name.

Lee Hsien LoongLee Kuan YewHO CHING