January 7, 2019 / 9:44 AM / 9 days ago

Singapore first family feud over founder's will resurfaces

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A feud between Singapore’s prime minister and his siblings resurfaced on Monday when the public prosecutor said there were questions over the involvement of a family member in the preparation of their father’s will.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks during the opening ceremony of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files

The case, which comes ahead of a general election expected as soon as this year, stems from a dispute over the old house of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and the father of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The siblings have publicly bickered since June, 2017 over the future of the family home in which the late leader, who died in 2015, had lived for most of his life.

Prime Minister Lee’s younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, and sister, Lee Wei Ling, want the house to eventually be demolished in accordance, they have said, with their father’s wishes as stated in his will.

But the prime minister has questioned whether his father really wanted the home, near Singapore’s bustling Orchard Road shopping district, to be knocked down. He has said he has recused himself from government discussions on the matter.

On Monday, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) said it had referred to the Law Society a case of “possible professional misconduct” over the involvement of the wife of the prime minister’s brother in the will.

The wife, Lee Suet Fern, who is a lawyer, appears to have prepared the elder Lee’s last will despite the fact that her husband was one of the beneficiaries of the will, the AGC said in a statement. Lee Suet Fern declined to comment.

But in a Facebook post on Monday, Lee Hsien Yang said his wife “was never Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer”.

He added: “No one has complained from the outset on the process and circumstances of our father’s signing his final will - not Lee Kuan Yew, not his estate...not any of the beneficiaries, including Lee Hsien Loong...The will was proven in court in 2015 with no issues raised.”

The government panel set up to look into the house said early last year that a future government should make the final call.

Reporting by Jack Kim, Fathin Ungku and John Geddie,; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ed osmond

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