Back and forth over Facebook. Back and forth over Facebook. An family feud that triggered a thousand (maybe tens of thousands) of comments.
Apart from the Lee siblings (Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling), a key figure in the whole saga appears to be Lim Suet Fern (LSF), who has remained largely silent.
- Who is Lim Suet Fern?
LSF, 59, is the wife of Lee Hsien Yang (LHY). She is also the daughter of Lim Chong Yah, a prominent economist and academic who previously served as the chairman of the National Wage Council for 29 years.
One of Singapore’s top corporate lawyers who graduated from Cambridge, LSF married LHY in 1981. The couple have three children.
LSF has just recently stepped down from her role as managing partner for global law firm Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP’s combined practice in Singapore, though the firm said that she will continue to play a key role in its global strategy from offices here and in Hong Kong – which we guess is probably the destination that LSF and HSY are headed to next.
- Lim Suet Fern the peacemaker?
It seems that LSF played a huge role in maintaining the peace in the Lee family, at least based on the bits of information that have been released so far by LHY and Lee Wei Ling (LWL). For instance, in the eulogy delivered by LHY when Mr LKY passed away, LHY said that LSF and himself wanted to help hold the family together, and invited the family to their home for LKY’s and LKY’s wife birthdays.
“Fern and I wanted to help the family hold together and create some happy occasions to continue to share…we began inviting the family to our home for Papa’s and Mama’s respective birthdays, for which I would cook a simple meal…Papa loved a good steak and had a Peranakan sweet tooth for desserts.” – LHY
And in the private email correspondence released by LWL. LSF also appeared to play the role of a peacemaker.
And she appeared to have been heavily involved in Mr LKY’s will as she seemed to have played a central role in convincing Mr LKY to give LWL her share of 38 Oxley Road, as well as the second family property in Cluny Road. (It is weird though, for a daughter-in-law to approach her father-in-law to matters like these. Then again, what kind of family correspond with one another via emails? 0.o)
As further evidence, I am sharing these e-mails establishing that LHL's allegations are false.
Excerpts of LSF’s email exchanges with LWL:
“I am still communicating with him now and trying to persuade him to be fair to you. You are special to him. Don’t push him into a corner; I am still hoping he will come around,”
“Please do not upset him. We might get him to be sensible. At least let me try,”
“Papa has just written to me to say that he now agrees to give your share of his estate and Cluny outright!”.
Excerpts of LSF’s email exchanges with Law Minister K Shanmugam:
“He (LKY) will not ask her (LWL) to come [they are both so proud and stubborn], but I know it would be his wish to have his children around,” she said.
“She knows that no one can guess how many birthdays, if any, he has left to celebrate.
“It would mean a lot to him if she can be persuaded to make an effort. You can tell her if she comes, I will work to keep conversation away from any sensitive issues.”
- Lim Suet Fern the missing link?
However, LSF’s involvement in this whole LKY’s estate issue is still shrouded in mystery. Towards the end of the summary of PM Lee’s statutory declarations, PM Lee posed nine questions with regard to Mr LKY’s last will.
LSF appeared in six of the nine questions.
In my siblings’ statement issued at about 2am on 14 June, they referred to my representations to the Ministerial…
(1) Why did LSF say, at the reading of the Last Will on 12 April 2015, that she had not wanted to be involved in the preparation of the Last Will and that she had asked NJK to handle the matter, when she had been intimately involved in the events surrounding and leading up to the Last Will?
(2) What was LSF’s role in the preparation and signing of the Last Will?
(3) What, if any, knowledge did LHY and LSF have of the First to Sixth Wills?
(4) Whether and to what extent were the earlier wills discussed with Mr Lee in the lead-up to the signing of the Last Will and when the Last Will was signed, and who had those discussions?
(5) Were the provisions of the Last Will explained to Mr Lee, and if so, who explained them to him?
(6) Who gave instructions to NJK in relation to the Last Will, and what were those instructions? Did NJK, who is said by LSF to have prepared the Last Will, ever meet or speak to Mr Lee to take instructions or to get the Last Will signed?
(7) Did Mr Lee give specific instructions to re-insert the Demolition Clause in the Last Will, and if so, to whom?
(8) Was there a conflict of interest on the part of LSF, her fellow lawyers and her firm?
(9) What transpired during the brief time that BL and EK were with Mr Lee? Did LSF tell BL and EK to ensure that Mr Lee received independent legal advice before asking him to sign the Last Will?
Many questions. But few answers for the missing link has still remained silent.
- Father’s Day
Today is Father’s Day, and most fathers would have left behind something precious for their children. And as modern Singapore’s founding father, what LKY has left behind for Singapore is more than just 38 Oxley Road. This country is his entire life’s work. His legacy.
Over the past week, Singaporeans have been shocked, saddened, and even angered. The average Singaporean can do little to end this very public family dispute. Only those involved can do so. Our only hope is that they will end this in a way that wouldn’t bring the rest of Singapore down as collateral damage, if they haven’t done so already.
That is all.