FamiLEE saga: Someone should just sue
by Bertha Henson
ANOTHER day, a few more missiles thrown. The FamiLEE saga has got technical, moving into the nitty-gritty details of who got involved when and over what in the matter of the last will of the late Lee Kuan Yew.
There are actually a lot more players in this than the three Lee siblings and their family members. Some have said things openly, like Kwa Kim Li who said that she was not involved in the preparation of the final will. Period. And like Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP of Mrs Lee Suet Fern, which said: “[Mrs Lee] will continue to spend a significant amount of time in Singapore as well as travel to Hong Kong, as she already does in support of her strong client relationships there, and as head of our international leadership team.” (Straits Times, Jun 16) Mrs Lee has stepped down from the position as managing partner of its combined practice in Singapore.
It seems that no one wants to take responsibility for that contentious last will. Perhaps, the late Mr Lee’s private secretary, Ms Wong Lin Hoe, will say something too as she was also intimately involved, or at least present, during those hours when the final will was settled on.
What’s the status of the saga now? A stalemate with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong insisting that Mrs Suet Fern was involved and the other side saying not true.
Is the fate of an old house worth such familial discord and national attention? How is this going to end?
Nobody is looking good here.
You can view PM Lee as a bully intent on getting his way or a son trying to do due diligence over his father’s will. What is his end-game? To preserve the house?
You may think that the siblings are making a mountain out of a molehill over the PM’s investigative attempts or that they truly believe their brother to be the tyrant of Singapore. What is their end-game? To demolish the house?
Is the house the be-all and end-all of this saga?
The Lee siblings said they wouldn’t have made things public if they didn’t think their eldest brother had gone too far. And that what can be done unto them can be done unto other mere mortals, although aside from the setting up of a secret ministerial committee, we are left wondering about other persecutorial moves.
They have a point though about the role of the ministerial committee; the Cabinet secretary didn’t go far enough with details. It is important that the G reveals more, or it would be seen as colluding with PM Lee (even though he said he has recused himself) in ‘persecuting’ the siblings.
PM Lee said he didn’t want to make open challenges during the probate hearing because it was essentially a family matter. He might want to change his mind now.
The fact is, the Prime Minister is being rubbished by his own siblings. This is a severe dent on his authority and image. He’s taken people to court for defamation for far less. Of course, the sticking point is that it would look really nasty to take family members to court. But the allegations of abuse of power, dishonesty and lying are too serious to let them go by. Never mind the family connection, the key issue is that he is the Prime Minister and his standing among the people he governs should be a prime consideration. He should practice what his G preaches, that only people of integrity should be in positions of power. He should take steps to defend assassinations to his character.
On the other hand, the two siblings might well do the same since the implication is that they, or at least, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, had connived to create a will that wasn’t in line with their late father’s intent. It does not matter that PM Lee had not challenged the will during probate. His statutory declaration to the mysterious ministerial committee has been made public and could be viewed as defamatory of the siblings.
Both Mr and Mrs Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling are people of some standing here and they, too, shouldn’t be content to let allegations go by. At least before leaving the country.
Maybe there will be those who do not have confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. But seriously, where else or who else should mediate in this matter? The other members of Cabinet? The President? An impartial committee of public-spirited citizens?
At least, the public acrimony would be halted in the run-up to a court case and people can get on with living their own lives without witnessing the spectacle.
The other question is whether a court decision would end the squabble once and for all. At the very least, it would determine who was lying. Yes, this would have consequences for both winning and losing party.
To put it bluntly, this would be a case that PM Lee cannot afford to lose. If he wins, then the other side would have to eat humble pie and pipe down. If he loses, this opens a whole can of worms on whether the Prime Minister is a trustworthy man. There might be chaos in the aftermath but what really is the alternative to this? Will everyone shutting up do the trick? Or we all pretend nothing happened?
We should just let the lawyers handle this.
Updated June 18: The famiLEE affair has been brewing for a while now. Read our articles on the issue:
- FamiLEE saga: 10 things from the academic paper “When I’m dead, demolish it” (Jun 18)
- FamiLEE saga: Who’s involved (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: Is a grant of probate really final? (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: Somebody should just sue (Jun 17)
- FamiLEE saga: PM Lee’s version of events (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: Let a third party tell all (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: The past three days (Jun 16)
- FamiLEE saga: How Lee Suet Fern got LWL her inheritance, according to leaked emails (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Singaporeans react with confusion, humour and CSI skills (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: From 38 Oxley Road to 1 Parliament Place, not just a family affair (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Headlines around the world (Jun 15)
- FamiLEE saga: Now about that mysterious ministerial committee (Jun 15)
- Not just a famiLEE affair (Jun 14)
- Third generation Lee weighs in (Jun 14)
- “We do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or as a leader. We have lost confidence in him.” (Jun 14)
Featured image from Sean Chong.
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