First-family feud in Singapore flares anew

Prosecutors say Lee Hsien Yang’s share of his father’s will increased after his wife worked on the document (AFP pic)

SINGAPORE: A fragile truce in Singapore’s founding family was shattered Monday after state prosecutors alleged the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s estranged brother may be guilty of professional misconduct.

The allegations mark the latest flare-up in a bitter quarrel between Premier Lee, and his younger brother and sister following the death in 2015 of their father, Singapore’s revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew.

At the centre of the dispute is a century-old family bungalow, which the late Lee wanted demolished after his death to avoid the creation of a personality cult.

The prime minister’s siblings — Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling — accuse their brother of blocking the house’s demolition to capitalise on their father’s legacy for his own political agenda.

The scandal erupted into public consciousness in 2017 and for months gripped a city-state not used to open criticism of its leaders, but had largely died down since the siblings vowed to stop their attacks on social media.

But tensions rose again in a separate case Monday when prosecutors announced the wife of Premier Lee’s brother, a top corporate lawyer, had been referred to a body that oversees the work of lawyers due to possible professional misconduct.

The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), the government’s prosecuting arm, said Lee Suet Fern’s involvement in the preparation of the elder Lee’s last will involved a conflict of interest as her husband was one of the beneficiaries.

“Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased under the last will,” the AGC said in a statement.

It said it had asked Lee Suet Fern multiple times to explain her position since October last year but did not receive a reply, prompting it to refer the matter to the professional lawyers’ body for disciplinary action.

Lee Wei Ling said in a Facebook post also shared by Lee Hsien Yang that the AGC’s 500-page complaint was a repetition of allegations made by Premier Lee.

She called the prosecutors’ actions an “unprecedented use of such legal process involving a private will” and “wholly without merit”.

Premier Lee has denied the allegations of blocking the bungalow’s demolition.