A reply to Lee Hsien Yang’s lies: ASG Desmond Lee


Over the weekend, Mr Lee Hsien Yang cited the corruption probe against Minister S Iswaran as an example of PM Lee Hsien Loong failing in his leadership.

How is this so? Just because PM Lee did what his predecessors, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, did: Support CPIB’s investigation of possible wrongdoing by political office holders?

CPIB investigated Mr Teh Cheang Wan when Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the PM – and three other figures linked to PAP before that. Now another Cabinet Minister is under investigation. That makes clear the Government’s stand on corruption allegations.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang is pursuing this vendetta because he wants to bring down the government as well as the PAP, the party his father founded. I am saddened by him using falsehoods to attack his brother, who has given his life to serving Singapore.

Why is he doing this?  It is consistent with his duplicitous conduct towards his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He, together with his wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, had misled the late Mr Lee, in the execution of his Last Will and Testament. The Disciplinary Tribunal established to look into Mrs Lee Suet Fern’s professional conduct, said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s explanations had been “downright dishonest”. He had no qualms lying under oath.  

In addition, this is what the Court of Three Judges, led by the Chief Justice, as well as the Disciplinary Tribunal have said:

  • The couple had cut off the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s own long-time lawyer, and procured the execution of the late Mr Lee’s last will with “unseemly haste”, overnight within 16 hours.  
  • At the time, the late Mr Lee was 90 years old, frail and in poor health, having recently been hospitalised for several weeks with serious medical conditions.
  • Mrs Lee Suet Fern “acted with complete disregard for the interests” of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and had “blindly followed the directions of her husband [Mr Lee Hsien Yang], a significant beneficiary under the very will whose execution she helped to rush through.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern was suspended as a legal professional for misconduct, for 15 months.

The Court of Three Judges and Disciplinary Tribunal also found that the couple had lied under oath during the proceedings. Indeed, the Disciplinary Tribunal said the couple had presented “an elaborate edifice of lies,” both on oath and in public statements. Mr Lee Hsien Yang went so far as to tell the Disciplinary Tribunal that “his public statements could be inaccurate because they are not sworn statements”. Meaning he might lie unless he was under oath.  (See extracts of the judgments below.)

Given these findings, the police commenced investigation into possible perjury, approaching the couple on 9 June last year. The couple agreed to be interviewed on 13 July, but they did not turn up.  They had fled the country.  

At the parliamentary debates on the Ministerial Statements relating to 38 Oxley Road in July 2017, ESM Goh Chok Tong had this to say: [f]rom what Lee Hsien Yang and his wife are freely telling many people, it is clear that their goal is to bring Lee Hsien Loong down as Prime Minister, regardless of the huge collateral damage suffered by the Government and Singaporeans.”  

Extracts of the Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) and Court of Three Judges’ (C3J) findings about the couple lying on oath

The full extracts of the DT and C3J’s Judgments on the couple lying under oath can be found in Annex A of Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean’s PQ Answer dated 2 March 2023.

I list some here.

a) From the DT Report:

  • The couple had presented “an elaborate edifice of lies … both on oath … and through their public and other statements, (which were referred to/relied upon during the Disciplinary Proceedings). The Affidavits were contrived to present a false picture. Several of the lies were quite blatant.” (DT Report at [617])
  • “Considered in totality, [Mrs Lee Suet Fern’s] conduct was quite dishonest. [Mr Lee Hsien Yang] and her conduct, demonstrated a calculated attempt to:
  1. Ensure that Mr Lee executed the Last Will as quickly as possible, without due regard to Mr Lee’s wishes, and
  2. Hide their wrongdoing in having done so.” (DT Report at [588])
  • “[Mrs Lee Suet Fern] was a deceitful witness, who tailored her evidence to portray herself as an innocent victim who had been maligned. This was a façade. She lied to the AGC [Attorney General Chambers] and she lied to us. Before us, she lied or became evasive whenever she thought that it was to her benefit to lie or evade.
  • [Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s] conduct was equally deceitful. He lied to the public, he lied to the MC [Ministerial Committee], and he lied to us. He tried to hide how he and his wife had misled his own father, Mr Lee on the Last Will. He had no qualms about making up evidence as he went along. We found him to be cynical about telling the truth.” (DT Report at [618]-[619])
  • “Having procured the Last Will through these improper means, she and [Mr Lee Hsien Yang] then fabricated a series of lies and inaccuracies, to perpetuate the falsehood that [Ms Kwa Kim Li] had been involved in the Last Will, and hide their own role in getting Mr Lee to sign the Last Will and their wrongdoings …” (DT Report at [592])
  • “[Mr Lee Hsien Yang] and [Mrs Lee Suet Fern] tried to explain away their conduct, the contemporaneous documentary evidence and other surrounding evidence, and even their own previous statements. Their explanations ranged from the improbable, to the patently contrived, to the downright dishonest.” (DT Report at [610])
  • Mr Lee Hsien Yang said, “his public statements could be inaccurate because they are not sworn statements, and thus he may not look at them carefully”. (DT Report at [612(b)])

b) From the C3J’s Judgment

  • “… [W]e agree with and affirm the DT’s [Disciplinary Tribunal’s] finding that [Mr Lee Hsien Yang] was not telling the truth when he said that he was the one who had forwarded the Draft Last Will to the Respondent…. [Mrs Lee Suet Fern’s] evidence on this issue, which echoed [Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s], was similarly untrue and to be rejected.” (C3J Judgment at [101])
  • “The Respondent also claimed in her AEIC [Affidavit of Evidence-in-Chief] that after she received a Draft Last Will from [Mr Lee Hsien Yang] (an assertion which we have just found to be untrue (see [101]-[102] above)), she did not even open it… [W]e agree with the DT that it is implausible and ultimately incredible…” (C3J Judgment at [103])
  • “[W]e note that after the disciplinary proceedings were initiated, [Mrs Lee Suet Fern] adopted the position, which the DT rejected and which we too have rejected as false, that it was her husband who had forwarded the Draft Last will to her…” (C3J Judgment at [151])
  • Mrs Lee Suet Fern “did act with a degree of dishonesty in the disciplinary proceedings, in that she sought to downplay her participation in the preparation and execution of the Last Will by giving a contrived and ultimately untrue account of her role…” (C3J Judgment at [159(b)])