Lee Hsien Loong at a loss of words

According to the latest release of email exchanges between Lee Kuan Yew and his daughter-in-law Lee Suet Fern, Lee Kuan Yew confirmed in writing the content of the Last Will – in particular the Demolition Clause – some 3 months before it was enacted. On 11 Sept 2012, Lee Kuan Yew wrote:

From: Lee Suet Fern [mailto:suetfern.lee@stamfordlaw.com.sg] Sent: Tuesday, 11 September, 2012 3:28 PM To: Kuan Yew LEE (PMO) Subject: Re: Oxley Trust
Papa Yes, I know that you and Mama had always intended for Cluny to be the family home. However, the children have no attachment to Cluny. Except for Yang who helped Mama with renovations for Cluny, I doubt any of them have even seen it. If there is any attachment by all the children and grandchildren, it is to Oxley Road which has been the family home for all their lives. Are you therefore ok with the original arrangements which gave Cluny to Ling? Also, will you also give her her share of your estate outright? The children and grandchildren are well provided for already.

On 11/09/12 15:36, Kuan Yew LEE (PMO) wrote: Message Classification: Restricted
Yes, equal shares outright. Cluny has no emotional meaning for any of the children, except for Yang. And none for the grandchildren.”

In the same email thread, Lee Kuan Yew was also not interested in retaining Oxley and specifically expressed that only the second property at Cluny Hill is to be left for the family:

“I wanted Cluny to stay with the family. Mama decided that it would be a comfortable home. But she had a major stroke in 2008. That makes Cluny too far for SGH doctors and nurses to commute. So we stayed put at Oxley. If the two boys will be giving to Ling their share of the 40% that is in my and Mama’s estate, then it makes no sense to have any trust or codicil to try and keep Cluny in the estate of the two boys. I had thought it would be a good family heir loom for one of the grandchildren to stay at Cluny. But it is a fancy to believe that any grandchild would feel any emotional attachment to Cluny Hill. So let it go whichever way the boys decide. My estate will go in three equal shares to my three children. If they give their shares to Ling then so be it.”

The Last Will was made in a month, probably due to considerations that Lee Kuan Yew’s health was worsening in the earlier year of 2013.

20 Aug 2011 – First will, with demolition clause
In the 1 year between, Lee Wei Ling has a fallout with Lee Kuan Yew and 4 more wills were made in the period with Lee Wei Ling removed of equal shares and 38 Oxley Road demolition removed. This period is seen as turbulent and the wills made were out of Lee Kuan Yew’s anger.
11 Sep 2012 – Lee Kuan Yew confirmed to return Lee Wei Ling equal shares, with an additional 1/7
2 Nov 2012 – Sixth will, equal shares, no demolition clause (Lee Kuan Yew probably forgotten that he removed the demolition clause.)
13 Dec 2012 – As correction, the Last will simply reverts back to the First will: gives equal shares to all, with a demolition of 38 Oxley Road clause

Lee Hsien Loong was fully aware of the demolition clause since 2011. In Lee Hsien Loong’s declaration on paragraph 5, he wrote:

“The Demolition Clause in the Last Will is now being used by Dr Lee Wei Ling (“LWL”) and Mr Lee Hsien Yang (“LHY”) to claim that Mr Lee was firm in his wish that the house at 38 Oxley Road (the “House”) be demolished, and that he was not prepared to accept its preservation or contemplate options short of demolition. There is no basis for these claims, not least because of the deeply troubling circumstances concerning the making of the Last Will.”