Lee Hsien Yang's wife may have breached lawyer's code of conduct: AGC

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
According to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, lawyer Lee Suet Fern (left), may have conducted herself unprofessionally amid her alleged involvement in the late Lee Kuan Yew’s will. (PHOTOS: Morgan Lewis/Facebook, Yahoo News Singapore)

The Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) complaint to the Law Society about Lee Suet Fern, the wife of Lee Hsien Yang, was regarding a case of possible “professional misconduct” in her alleged preparation of Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.

In a statement on Monday (7 January) morning, the AGC said that Suet Fern “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,” it added.

The AGC noted that the Professional Conduct Rules of the legal profession require that lawyers do not place themselves in a position of conflict.

For example, 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.

Suet Fern’s act of preparing the will “appears prima facie to be in breach of Rules 25 and 46 of the Professional Conduct Rules”, said the AGC. It noted that it has a “statutory duty to deal with misconduct by lawyers and may refer such individuals to the Law Society”.

The Law Society, which represents all lawyers in Singapore, maintains standards of conduct with the nation’s legal fraternity and can take disciplinary action against its members when breaches occur.

“As the Attorney-General has recused himself from this case, the matter has been overseen by Deputy Attorney-General Lionel Yee,” it added, referring to Lucien Wong, who was formerly Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s personal lawyer. Wong was appointed Singapore’s Attorney-General in November 2016.

No response since October 2018

The AGC said it has written to Suet Fern several times since October 2018, asking her to explain her role, if any, in the preparation of Lee Kuan Yew’s last will. However, she has yet to respond to these questions “despite asking for extensions of time”, it added.

“Given her refusal to answer, AGC then referred the matter to the Law Society. The Deputy Attorney-General has also further requested that the matter be referred to a Disciplinary Tribunal,” said the AGC.

“In referring the matter to the Law Society, the AGC does not make any findings on the merits of the case. AGC does not determine guilt or innocence,” it added.

The AGC’s statement follows a Facebook post by Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter Wei Ling on Sunday evening, in which she revealed that the AGC had lodged “more than 500 pages of complaint” against Suet Fern over her alleged role in the drafting of the will.

Hsien Yang has maintained that his father’s final will was drafted by lawyer Kwa Kim Li – which the latter has denied – and that Stamford Law Corporation, his wife’s law firm at the time, did not draft any of his father’s wills.

Instead, Suet Fern merely facilitated the witnessing and signing of the final will, according to Hsien Yang.

“Paragraph 7 (the demolition clause) of the Will was drafted at LKY’s direction, and put into language by Lee Suet Fern his daughter-in-law and when he was satisfied he asked Kim Li to insert it into his will,” said Hsien Yang in a Facebook post from June 2016.

Wei Ling’s post and the AGC’s statement are the latest developments in the long-running Lee saga, which first erupted on 14 June 2017 when Wei Ling and Hsien Yang issued a joint statement of “no confidence” against their elder brother, Hsien Loong.

They claimed to have been threatened amid his pursuit of a personal agenda over their former family home at 38 Oxley Road and accused the their brother of plotting to keep the house in order to build a political dynasty.

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