SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there are “deeply troubling circumstances” over how the will of his father and the founding leader of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was drawn up, in the latest salvo in a family feud that has shaken the island state this week.
The prime minister’s younger brother and sister, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, said on Wednesday they had lost confidence in Lee Hsien Loong and feared that the state’s organs would be used against them. Lee Hsien Yang said he and his wife, the lawyer Lee Suet Fern, would be leaving Singapore because they felt closely monitored and threatened.
A timeline issued by the prime minister’s lawyers and published on Facebook late on Thursday shows that the three children of Lee Kuan Yew, who ruled the country for three decades, have been battling over the will for several years.The biggest issue has been over the future of the house that their father lived in for most of his life. Before Lee died in March 2015, he made it public that he wanted the home near the bustling Orchard Road shopping district to be demolished rather than turned into some kind of museum.
But Lee Hsien Loong said in the six-page timeline that the fifth and sixth versions of the will had removed a clause about the demolition, and it was only reinserted in the final will, the seventh version. He questioned whether Lee Kuan Yew knew the clause was re-inserted, saying there was no evidence that he did.
The prime minister questioned the role his brother’s wife, Lee Suet Fern, may have played in his father’s last will. He said that she “was involved in the preparation and/or signing of the Last Will” and that given her husband was a beneficiary this appeared to be a conflict of interest.
He also said that there had been another major change between the sixth and the last will. In the sixth will, Lee Kuan Yew had given his daughter Lee Wei Ling a greater share of the estate than his two sons.
However, in the last will they all got equal shares, and after that was drawn up the prime minister said in the timeline that Lee Wei Ling told the prime minister’s wife Ho Ching in an email that she didn’t trust Lee Suet Fern because of her great influence on her husband, Lee Hsien Yang.
Late on Thursday, Lee Wei Ling indicated in a Facebook posting that she still supported Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern.
“Hsien Loong and (his wife) Ho Ching are being mischievious and dishonest to selectively use quotes from me out of context to suggest that Hsien Yang and his wife were trying to cheat me in our father’s final will,” Lee Wei Ling wrote. “There was no duplicity by Hsien Yang and his wife, Suet Fern.”
Lee Hsien Yang responded on social media, saying his brother’s allegations are false.
“Hsien Loong raised no legal challenge to Lee Kuan Yew’s will in the many months after it was read. Probate was granted in Oct 2015, so the will is full, final, and legally binding,” Lee Hsien Yang posted on his Facebook.
“Hsien Loong should not use a committee of his subordinates to allege what he did not dare to allege in court,” he said, asking how Lee Kuan Yew would not have known about any changes when he initialed right beneath the demolition clause.
The prime minister said he didn’t challenge the will in court because he wanted to avoid a public fight.
Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Martin Howell