Lawyer faces disciplinary tribunal over late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew's will

Gurdip Singh
·3-min read

Singapore, Apr 21 (PTI) A Singapore court on Wednesday ordered a disciplinary tribunal to probe the alleged misconduct of the former lawyer of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore, in handling his will over which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings are embroiled in a legal battle.

Prime Minister Lee, the eldest son of late Lee Kuan Yew, his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang and sister Lee Wei Ling are in dispute over the 120-year-old family house on a prime land in the central business district here.

Lawyer Kwa Kim Li, a cousin of Prime Minister Lee, has been referred to a Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) over complaints regarding her conduct in the preparation of the late Lee Kuan Yew's will.

Justice Valerie Thean of the High Court granted an order directing the Law Society to apply to the Chief Justice for the appointment of a DT for a formal investigation into Kwa’s conduct, following a complaint by the younger siblings of PM Lee.

In a judgement on Wednesday, the DT was instructed to investigate two more of the Lees' complaints: that Kwa failed to follow the instructions of the late Lee to destroy his superseded wills, and that she had given false and misleading information to them in two e-mails in 2015.

Kwa, the managing partner of law firm Lee & Lee, had helped Lee Kuan Yew draft six wills between August 20, 2011 and November 2, 2012. His first will and last will were not prepared by Kwa.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang submitted a letter to the Law Society dated September 5, 2019, comprising four complaints about Kwa.

After considering reports dated May 2020 and August 2020, the Council of the Law Society wrote to Wei Ling and Hsien Yang on September 7, 2020, informing them that it would apply to the Chief Justice to appoint a disciplinary tribunal only for the second complaint.

After their father died in March 2015, Prime Minister Lee and his sister Wei Ling asked Kwa for records and information of the various wills that their father had signed prior to his final will.

Kwa replied them in an email on June 4, 2015 and included Hsien Yang in her reply captioned: 'Chronology of 6 Wills - my file records with focus on Oxley'.

Oxley refers to Lee Kuan Yew's family home, a subject of contention among his children after his death in March 2015. It is at 38 Oxley Rise, amidst a mixture of high-rise and low-rise residential-commercial mixed properties.

The two younger Lee siblings contend that Kwa made a significant omission in her June 4, 2015 email by failing to mention her discussions with their father in emails sent in November and December 2013.

Wei Ling had previously accused Kwa of “lying” about the latter’s supposed non-involvement in the events that led to her father’s 2013 will.

Under the Legal Profession Act, all advocates and solicitors proven guilty of any breaches that amount to improper conduct or practice can be struck off the roll, censured or made to pay monetary penalties.

Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 91. His last will differed from his sixth and penultimate will in significant ways, and did not contain some changes he had wanted and discussed with his lawyer Kwa four days earlier.

Among the differences was a demolition clause - relating to the demolition of his 38 Oxley Road house after his death - which had not been in the sixth or penultimate will but was in the last. PTI GS PMS