Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s youngest son, Lee Hsien Yang has proudly revealed on social media that his wife, corporate lawyer Lee Suet Fern, has won an award at the 2019 Yokohama Quilt Festival.
Calling his wife an “accomplished quilter”, Mr Lee wrote: “My wife, apart from being a corporate lawyer, is also an accomplished quilter. One of her quilts has just won an award at the 2019 Yokohama Quilt Festival. The quilt is called Castel del Monte because of the octagons in the quilt.”
The write-up accompanying the quilt, written by Mdm Lee, is as follows: “Octagons in quilts have always fascinated me. Old castles conjure dreams of fairy tales. I wanted to create a quilt with octogons using traditional european reproduction chintz fabrics but to include movement within the octogons. Castel del Monte is a protected World Heritage European castle with octogonal towers and an octogonal footprint. The romance of a fairy-tale castle in a quilt.”
This is not the first time Mdm Lee has been in the news for her quilting talent. In 2014, the national broadsheet ran a feature on Mdm Lee’s passion for quilting. Her quilts had been entered into International Quilt Festival Houston and the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, then.
Revealing that she picked up the activity over two decades ago, Mdm Lee told the publication: “Professional work will always take precedence, but this is a hobby which has become my passion. I sew through the night because I’ve got some momentum.”
She added that she picked up knitting while she was in university because she noticed her then-boyfriend, Mr Lee, only wearing jumpers handmade by his mother and did not want to be outdone. Sharing that she learnt how to knit and sew after reading a guidebook, she said: “That was what really sparked it off. He didn’t have any store-bought jumpers. Not to be outdone, I wanted him to wear jumpers I had knitted too.”
Knitting also helped Mdm Lee bond with her mother-in-law, Mdm Kwa Geok Choo. Recalling fond memories of knitting with her mother-in-law as she had her first child, Li Shengwu, Mdm Lee said: “We madly knitted. I think my son had the largest collection of baby booties at that time. I still have some of those booties today, carefully stored away.”
Today, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) have initiated action against Mdm Lee and her son Li Shengwu. The AGC initiated contempt of court legal proceedings against Li Shengwu over a private Facebook post before filing a 500-page complaint against Mdm Lee to the Law Society.
The AGC alleged that Mdm Lee 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 Mdm Lee and her son re-ignited the Lee family feud which spilled into the public domain two years ago, when Lee Hsien Yang and his elder sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling 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.
The siblings also alleged that PM Lee used state organs against them and that he was moulding his son, Li Hongyi, to enter politics. They 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 and Mr Lee 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.
For months afterwards, the younger siblings remained silent – until the AGC initiated action against Mr Lee’s son and wife.
Both siblings have since have vehemently denied any claim that Mdm Lee 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 that 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 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.”