The Law Ministry on 15 April, rebutted leading lawyer Mrs Lee Suet Fern‘s comments that the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme has not benefited local lawyers sufficiently.
The Law Ministry did not stop at rebutting Mrs Lee but also publicly revealed that she had sought to join the scheme in 2014. Her arguments therefore appeared at odds with her previous position, said the Ministry.
Mrs Lee is the wife of the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Lee Hsien Yang. She was also recently given the lifetime achievement award by Chambers and Partners, an international organisation which identifies and ranks the most outstanding law firms and lawyers in over 180 jurisdictions throughout the world. Mrs Lee is the first female lawyer in the Asia-Pacific to receive this honour.
Public displays of disagreements between the Lee family and the Government were unheard of in the past, but have become more common in the past few months since the death of strongman, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The government is headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Mr Lee.
It was reported in September last year that Dr Lee Wei Ling, the second child of Mr Lee as well as her younger brother, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, had filed a lawsuit with the government as the defendant over an issue about the usage of some of their late father’s interviews.
The two children of Mr Lee are seeking the High Court’s guidance on a “proper interpretation of an interview agreement between the late Mr Lee and the Government”, The Straits Times (ST) reported.
They had requested copies of transcripts of interviews that their father made in 1981 and 1982 to the Government’s Oral History Department. They claim that the transcripts were in possession of the Lee Kuan Yew Estate.
The Government however disagreed, saying that an interview agreement was entered in early 1983 which maintains that the Lee Kuan Yew Estate are not entitled to use and possess copies of the transcripts.
Then last month (Mar), Dr Lee alleging censorship by the publications of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), said that she will not write for SPH publications anymore. She was a prominent columnist of SPH’s ST.
A tit-for-tat allegations and counter-allegations followed Dr Lee’s Facebook post. Janadas Devan who formerly edited Dr Lee’s work and is now the Chief of Government Communications, publicly contended with Dr Lee. Editors of ST also alleged that they did not censor the doctor, but only edited her.
To prove her side of the story, Dr Lee briefly revealed her email exchanges with ST. In one of the email correspondence, she alleged that ‘no one in SPH dares to stand up to the powers that be to say, “you cannot abuse your power.”
“HL (Hsien Loong) has no qualms abusing his power to have a commemoration just one year after LKY died,” she wrote.
“<…>if the power that be wants to establish a dynasty, LKY’s daughter will not allow LKY’s name to be sullied by a dishonorable son,” Dr Lee added.
PM Lee was quick to refute his sister and said that her accusations of him were “completely untrue”.
Dr Lee in speaking to an international publication on the topic after PM Lee’s refutations said that she “always try to stick by the truth”.
At about the same time Dr Lee revealed the email exchanges between herself and ST, Ho Ching, the wife of PM Lee and the head of Temasek Holdings, shared the picture of a monkey with an extended middle finger in social media.
This led many members of the public to speculate if the rude gesture was aimed at Ho’s sister-in-law.
Ho later clarified that it was a Twitter malfunction, and apologised for posting the picture. Several netizens however, refused to believe Ho’s explanations.
One netizen said in jest, “Stress management tip: When your husband is coping with accusations of being dishonourable and abusing his power, play with Twitter.”
Several Facebook users have now pointed out that Mrs Lee Suet Fern had shared Dr Lee’s note about not hero-worshiping Lee Kuan Yew, and asked if this meant she supported Dr Lee in the spat with her older brother.
The privacy setting of Mrs Lee’s sharing of the post is set to ‘public’. This share is her only public post of socio-political nature.