June 16, 2017 / 5:33 PM / a month ago

Singapore PM's sister-in-law changes job role amid family feud

3 Min Read

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP's combined practice in Singapore, has stepped down from the position to focus on her international role in the firm, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.

The move comes amid an intensifying family feud over the will of the city-state's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Suet Fern's father-in-law, which has gripped the island this week.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said late on Thursday there were "deeply troubling circumstances" over how his father's will had been drawn up.

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 state organs would be used against them.

Lee Hsien Yang said he and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, would be leaving Singapore because they felt closely monitored and threatened.

"The firm does not anticipate any material change in our Singapore team or practice," Morgan Lewis said in a statement on Lee Suet Fern's role.

"Suet-Fern 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."

She sits on the board of Morgan Lewis, and the firm's international leadership team that she chairs oversees its non-U.S. offices.

The prime minister on Thursday questioned the role his sister-in-law, 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.

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 had been re-inserted, saying there was no evidence that he did.

Lee Hsien Yang said on social media his brother's allegations were 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 Facebook.

Reporting by Miyoung Kim and Fathin Ungku; editing by Andrew Roche

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