It has been over 50 hours since Dr Lee Wei Ling released email correspondence proving Kwa Kim Lee’s involvement in preparing the last will of her father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, but the Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia and TODAY Online have yet to report on the matter.
Earlier this year, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) filed a 500-page complaint against the late Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter-in-law, Lee Suet Fern, to the Law Society. The AGC alleged that Suet Fern would be liable for professional misconduct if she had prepared Lee Kuan Yew’s will, since her husband – Lee Hsien Yang – is a beneficiary of the will.
The AGC’s action against Lee Suet Fern re-ignited the family feud which spilled into the public domain two years ago, when the Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang accused their elder brother – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – of abusing his power to preserve their family home, against their father’s willed desire to demolish the house, in order to bolster his grip on power.
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang also alleged that Lee Hsien Loong used state organs against them and that he was moulding his son, Li Hongyi, to enter politics. The siblings also said that the Government convened a secret committee to make a decision on the house.
PM Lee addressed the allegations against him in a Parliamentary debate where he declared that he has been cleared of all charges. He added that he will not sue his siblings for defamation since that would “besmirch” the names of their parents.
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang reinforced their allegations, following this, but offered a ceasefire on releasing further evidence in favour of settling the matter in private, on the condition that they nor their father’s will be attacked or misrepresented.
Both Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang have vehemently denied any claim that Lee Suet Fern played a part in preparing Lee Kuan Yew’s will and said that the will was drafted by Kwa Kim Lee, their cousin who is the managing partner of Lee & Lee.
The AGC asserted lawyer Kwa Kim Lee, who was identified by Lee Hsien Yang as the one who drafted the last will, denied doing so. Both the Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia contacted Kwa Kim Lee and asked her whether she prepared Lee Kuan Yew’s last will.
Kwa Kim Lee denied any involvement in the making of the last will to both publications. The Straits Times reported: “Ms Kwa, who is currently overseas, told The Straits Times: ‘I did not prepare the last will.’ Her statement contradicts an earlier one made by Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who is her cousin and the younger son of the late Mr Lee.”
Channel NewsAsia reported: “In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia on Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s assertion, Ms Kwa said: “No, I did not prepare the last will.””
On Tuesday (30 Apr), Dr Lee Wei Ling cast doubt upon Kwa Kim Lee’s statements as she released email correspondence between her father and Kwa Kim Lee, said to be proving that the lawyer prepared the last will.
Asserting that Kwa Kim Lee lied and breached her duties to her client, Dr Lee wrote:
“My dishonourable brother Loong has repeatedly alleged that my sister-in-law, Yang’s wife, prepared and somehow got our father to sign a will in December 2013. Kwa Kim Li (KKL) of Lee & Lee has denied involvement in the events that led to this 2013 will. These are all falsehoods. KKL has been lying. She has also breached her duties to her client, my father.
“Lee & Lee have always been lawyers for my father’s personal matters including all his wills, powers of attorney, and Advance Medical Directives including his affirmation in August 2014 of his AMD.
“The truth is that my father had discussed the changes he wanted extensively with KKL before he signed his December 2013 will. From late November 2013 all the way till Friday 13 December 2013, my father had had discussions and exchanged emails with KKL of Lee & Lee on what he wanted in his will. These included discussions of his immediately prior will. The will my father signed on Tuesday 17 December 2013 reflected these prior discussions with his lawyer KKL. It was exactly what he wanted. It provided for equal shares for all the children, something he had agreed with our mother and all of us.
“Here is one email proving my father discussed his December 2013 will with Kwa Kim Li. There are more.”
Interestingly, The Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia and TODAY Online have not reported on this latest turn of events while they were prompt in publishing Kwa Kim Lee’s version of events.
This is not the first time Singapore Press Holdings-owned Straits Times and Mediacorp-owned Channel NewsAsia and TODAY Online have neglected to cover Dr Lee’s side of the story in their coverage of the dispute over Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.
On April 15, Dr Lee wrote on Facebook: “Media reports have continued to repeat Loong’s false and dishonourable allegations that Yang somehow swindled our father to get more in his final will. This is a lie.”
Her statement received zero coverage from all three mainstream news sources who seemed to be keen to cover every development in the AGC’s actions against Lee Hsien Yang’s family members.
A quick search with the search terms “Lee Wei Ling” and “Kwa Kim Lee” on the websites of the Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia and TODAY Online show that all three publications did not cover Dr Lee’s posts on 15 and 30 Apr since their most recent articles on the two names date farther back:
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which is headed by PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching, owns a 100 per cent stake in Mediacorp. There are also close ties between the directors of SPH and the Singapore Government.
A US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks several years ago caused a stir after it quoted former ST bureau chief for the US as saying that SPH’s “editors have all been groomed as pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line”.