Lee family feud hots up

Top News | REUTERS 24 Feb 2020

The daughter-in-law of Singapore's founding father has been found guilty by a disciplinary tribunal of professional misconduct over involvement in preparing his will, which is at heart of a feud between the first family.

The latest development in a long-running saga could sow further discord among the prime minister and his siblings - whose father Lee Kuan Yew cofounded the party which has ruled the island nation unbroken since independence - just as an election looms.

The feud centers around the fate of the old house of Singapore's first premier and the father of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"I disagree with the disciplinary tribunal's report and will fight this strongly when it is heard in open court," said Lee Suet Fern, a lawyer who is married to the prime minister's younger brother. The brother, Lee Hsien Yang, and sister, Lee Wei Ling, want the house to eventually be demolished in accordance with what they said was their father's wishes in his will.

But the prime minister has questioned whether his father really wanted the home, near bustling Orchard Road shopping district, to be knocked down.

The Attorney General's Chambers last year referred to the Law Society a case of "possible professional misconduct" over the involvement of Lee Suet Fern in the will as her husband was one of the beneficiaries.

The tribunal in its findings last week said it found that the charges against her have been proven beyond reasonable doubt and there was cause for disciplinary action.

It said that even if she had not been the senior Lee's lawyer, she misled him, and procured his execution of the will on the basis of misrepresentations.

In her defense, her lawyers said Lee Kuan Yew was never her client and she was not instructed by him over the will. She was merely assisting in a family matter at the request of her husband, they added.

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, the newspaper Straits Times reported.

Her husband shared his sister's Facebook post that criticized the decision. He has previously said his wife "was never Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer."

Singapore's general election must be held by early next year.

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