SINGAPORE: Singapore’s immigration authority said on Wednesday (May 17) that the passport of Mr Lee Hsien Yang remains valid and that it has never seized the document.
The statement by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), issued as a response to media queries, came in the wake of a disciplinary tribunal for Madam Kwa Kim Li, the lawyer of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang is the son of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and also the brother of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
A report by the disciplinary tribunal, released on May 5, stated that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had applied to give evidence by video link because his “passport was currently being held by immigration authorities in connection with an immigration issue and that he was unlikely to get it back in time for the hearing”.
ICA denied this on Wednesday, saying: “His passport remains valid today and was never in ICA’s possession during and following Mdm Kwa Kim Li’s disciplinary tribunal hearing.”
The tribunal found that Mdm Kwa had failed to safeguard Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s confidentiality while handling his will, and that she had misled his children, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, in email responses to their queries.
Mdm Kwa was ordered to pay a penalty of S$13,000 and to pay costs and disbursements to Mr Lee Hsien Yang and The Law Society of Singapore.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Ms Lee Suet Fern are not in Singapore. They left after declining to attend a police interview in July 2022 relating to lying in judicial proceedings about the late Mr Lee’s will.
PASSPORT ISSUE IN DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL’S REPORT
In its report, the tribunal noted that one of the issues prior to the commencement of the evidentiary hearing was that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had applied to give evidence via video link – an application that was rejected by Mdm Kwa.
The report did not state when the application had been made, or when its subsequent hearing took place.
During a video hearing for this application, Mr Lee Hsien Yang submitted that he was unable to travel due to matters beyond his control, and that there were “appropriate administrative arrangements and technical facilities available for him to give evidence by video link”.
According to the tribunal, Mr Lee argued that he would face “unfair prejudice” if the application was not granted.
The report further noted: “Despite repeated requests by the disciplinary tribunal, counsel for (Mr Lee Hsien Yang) declined to state the purpose for which the passport had been handed over, or even when (Mr Lee Hsien Yang) had handed over the passport.
“This latter question was critical as it touched the question of whether (Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s) inability to travel was a matter beyond his control or occasioned by his own actions.”
Mdm Kwa’s lawyer argued that his client would be prejudiced by the inability to cross-examine Mr Lee Hsien Yang in person.
After consideration, the tribunal allowed the application for Mr Lee Hsien Yang to give evidence via video link, even though it said it was “disturbed” by his “refusal to give reasons why and the circumstances under which he did not have possession of his passport”.
The tribunal felt Mdm Kwa would not be prejudiced by having to conduct the cross-examination via video link.