SINGAPORE – An e-book on the last will of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew came under the spotlight in a written reply by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament on Thursday.
Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) had asked Mr Teo about the accuracy of the contents of the e-book, The Battle Over Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will, published online in July 2022 by the team behind digital magazine Jom.
Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, the author, had described the e-book as “the product of over a year’s worth of research” in an essay, but Mr Teo on Thursday cast doubt on the claim and described the e-book as an attempt “to rewrite the facts”.
In response to the criticism, Mr Thomas said Mr Teo’s objection to the e-book’s conclusions stemmed from the fact that it was critical of Mr Teo’s actions as head of the ministerial committee tasked to look into the matter involving the late Mr Lee’s house at 38 Oxley Road.
“And, as the head of the (ministerial committee), he may feel that our argument is critical of his actions – and, in that, a rare instance in this whole episode, he would be correct,” Mr Thomas told The Straits Times.
The senior minister told Parliament the e-book “totally ignores the facts and findings which had been established, after an objective and thorough examination of the case, by the Court of Three Judges in November 2020 and a disciplinary tribunal in February 2020”.
“It is clear that the assertions in his book are calculated to mislead, as they are completely at odds with the findings and conclusions of the Court of Three Judges and the disciplinary tribunal.”
The tribunal and the court had been tasked to look into whether Mrs Lee Suet Fern, a senior lawyer and wife of the late Mr Lee’s younger son Lee Hsien Yang, had been guilty of misconduct over her role in preparing the will, and had heard from both of them. Mrs Lee was eventually found guilty of misconduct by both the tribunal and the court. They also found that the couple had misled the late Mr Lee and had lied under oath.
On Thursday, Mr Teo issued an annex detailing five broad areas in which the e-book was inaccurate. The annex compared parts of the e-book against parts of the tribunal’s report and the court’s decision.
But Mr Thomas said in his reply, which he also posted on his blog, that the annex had omitted some salient facts, and urged readers to read his book themselves.
He cited two examples. For instance, the annex stated that he had ignored findings by the court and tribunal and “the admissions made by (Mr Lee and Mrs Lee)“, but pages 28 to 29 of the e-book, in fact, lay out the court’s findings, including the alleged inaccuracies offered by the couple, he said.
According to the annex, the e-book also stated that the last will was based on the late Mr Lee’s orders and thus suggests he had made a conscious decision to include the demolition clause in his last will, added Mr Thomas.
But he said he had stated clearly on page 20 of the e-book that “there is no record of (Lee Kuan Yew) having asked anybody for the clause to be reinserted in the seventh and last will”.
Here are some of the discrepancies outlined by the annex:
1. Mrs Lee Suet Fern and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have not been cleared of all impropriety