The Court of Appeal released the judgment transcript of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang vs. The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) last week.
The younger children of Lee Kuan Yew and co-executors of his estate bid for control of oral history transcripts containing classified information that had allegedly been removed from the late founding Prime Minister’s home by “a family member” who handed the transcripts over to a government official, without authorisation.
In the hearing, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang put forth that prior to Lee Kuan Yew’s death, a copy of the confidential transcripts were kept at his home as he was working on his memoirs. After his passing, the siblings allege that “a family member passed them to the current Cabinet Secretary, Mr Tan Kee Yong.”
According to court documents, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang “apparently only discovered that the Transcripts had been handed over to Mr Tan when they received a letter from him acknowledging receipt of the Transcripts.”
The High Court dismissed the Lee siblings’ bid to procure control of the transcripts, in 2016, asserting that the information contained within the interviews are of a politically sensitive nature. Judge Tay Yong Kwong said at the time that since these interviews were conducted between July 8, 1981 and July 5, 1982, when Mr Lee was Prime Minister, and were part of a Government project to document the history of Singapore, they would fall under the Official Secrets Act.
The siblings then appealed the High Court’s decision at the Court of Appeal this year. Judgment has been reserved by a panel of three judges, headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
One burning question, however, lingers: who is this mystery family member the younger Lee siblings are referring to?
During the Oxley saga – when Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang leveled allegations against their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, that he abused his power and abused state organs to advance his alleged agenda to override his father’s willed desire to demolish their family home – Lee Wei Ling specifically called out the Prime Minister’s wife Ho Ching of “acting improperly.”
In a Facebook post two months ago, Lee Kuan Yew’s only daughter called her brother a “bad PM” and marked her sister-in-law as an “even worse Mrs PM, especially as there is no official position as Mrs PM.”
She also said that Ho Ching misappropriated items from Lee Kuan Yew’s residence. She wrote:
“Hsien Loong and Ho Ching angered me very early on. Both were not straight and were taking advantage of the fact that no one would dare criticise them for acting improperly.”
Lee Hsien Yang also called Ho Ching out for “intermeddling.” He claimed that while Lee Kuan Yew was still alive and admitted to the ICU, Ho Ching “helped herself to a number of LKY’s papers. These she handed to the NHB (ostensibly on loan) under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office.”
“She had no business doing this when LKY was in ICU and it is deeply troubling that someone can represent the PMO despite holding no official position.”
Ho Ching, the CEO of sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, disputed the claim that she rummaged through items while Lee Kuan Yew was in the hospital and said that it was only after the funeral that she began “tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, (work) which I couldn’t see Ling or Fern doing,” faulting her sisters-in-law for not doing what she called “dogsbody” work.
She said in a comment on her brother-in-law’s Facebook post:
“There would not be any reason for me to rummage or tidy up papa’s things when he was in the hospital – that is not me nor my values.
“However, you may remember that after papa’s funeral, you went off with Fern for a break in Japan or somewhere. I began tidying up the house, cleaning up stuff in the basement, and organizing items, dogsbody work as I mentioned to you before, which I couldn’t see Ling or Fern doing. This was what I had also done at papa’s request after mama’s death. Ling was in Oxley, and I had kept her posted, while trying not to intrude into her grieving.”
The youngest Lee child then said:
“The executors of LKY’s estate never authorized Ho Ching to remove the items she admits to removing. Informing the executors after the fact does not give her the right to intermeddle.”