Monday, 18 April 2016

Govt rebuts Lawyer's comments on QFLP scheme

Update 17 Jun 2017: Lee Suet Fern steps down as managing partner in law firm
The wife of PM Lee Hsien Loong's brother has been in the spotlight over a disagreement between the Lee siblings over their family home at 38 Oxley Road

Mrs Lee Suet Fern has stepped down as the managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford, the law firm confirmed on Friday (Jun 16).

Channel NewsAsia understands that Mrs Lee is stepping down as part of a long-term plan for her successor, Mr Ng Joo Khin to succeed her. She will continue to stay in her firm as head of the international leadership team.

A spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia that Morgan Lewis "does not anticipate any material change in our Singapore team or practice".

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Singapore PM's sister-in-law changes job role amid family feud

Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP's combined practice in Singapore, has stepped down from the position to focus on her international role in the firm, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.

The move comes amid an intensifying family feud over the will of the city-state's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Suet Fern's father-in-law, which has gripped the island this week.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said late on Thursday there were "deeply troubling circumstances" over how his father's will had been drawn up.

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Lee Suet Fern steps down as Singapore managing partner of Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP
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Global law firm Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP has said Mrs Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of its combined practice in Singapore, has stepped down from that role.

But Mrs Lee - wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang - will continue to play a key role in its global strategy from offices here and in Hong Kong.


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Ministry defends 2008 scheme which lawyer Lee Suet Fern says has not benefited S'pore lawyers enough
Mrs Lee cited figures on the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice scheme, and wondered if the outcome was good enough

The Law Ministry has rebutted comments by a prominent S'pore lawyer who said a scheme unveiled in 2008 to open up the local legal sector to foreign law firms has not benefited local lawyers enough.

The ministry was responding to comments on Internationalisation by Mrs Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford, at a lecture organised by the Law Society last month.

Mrs Lee had cited the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme, which allows foreign law firms to practise in permitted areas of local law through S'pore qualified lawyers.

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Govt rebuts lawyer's comments on scheme

In its response, MinLaw defended the scheme, noting that it had opened up new opportunities for S'porean lawyers who were keen to do transnational commercial work. The scheme allowed them to gain exposure to niche areas not previously easily available and gave opportunities to young local lawyers.

The ministry noted that for 2014/2015, the nine foreign firms granted QFLP status generated $340 million in revenue, with 80 per cent coming from offshore work, or work that could have been done elsewhere.

Exports of legal services in 2014 were worth $700 million - $400 million contributed by foreign law firms.

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Govt rebuts lawyer's comments on scheme

Last night, Mrs Lee said she acknowledged the benefits of the QFLP scheme, but added that it is only 1 of the ways for the legal sector to grow. "S'pore lawyers need to go regional, with or without QFLPs. And there are many opportunities for S'pore lawyers to tap overseas opportunities, as more local and international firms tie up. This calls for a mindset change. S'pore lawyers need to leave their comfort zone and think regional, think international and venture beyond the shores of Singapore."

Pointing out that Mrs Lee's arguments appeared at odds with her previous positions, the ministry disclosed that she had sought to join the scheme in 2014.

But her proposal to do so was turned down as the ministry "had specific periods when it invited applications from everyone, then considered the best applicants".

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PM Lee’s Sister-in-Law Slams Scheme that Allows Foreign Law Firms to Operate in Singapore

MinLaw also pointed out that Mrs Lee had previously sought to join the scheme in 2014, but her proposal was rejected as the ministry “had specific periods when it invited applications from everyone, then considered the best applicants”.

Mrs Lee’s criticism comes on the back of a family feud involving the Lee family which has gained global attention.

In that feud, PM Lee’s sister, Lee Wei Ling, accused her brother sullying her father Lee Kuan Yew’s name in his attempts to build a dynasty.


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Ministry of Law: Lee Hsien Loong’s sister-in-law is flip-flopping

In what seems like another Lee family’s spate aired public, the Ministry of Law hit out at the Prime Minister’s sister-in-law for criticising the government scheme Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QDLP).

Delivering a lecture at organised by the Law Society, the wife of Lee Hsien Long’s younger brother (Lee Hsien Yang), Lee Suet Fern, criticised the Singapore government for allowing foreign law firms to operate in Singapore and taking away the business of local law firms.

Lee Suet Fern said foreign law firms are not developing enough local talents and yet making profits that would have otherwise went to local law firms:
“The six original QFLP firms, despite generating $1.2 billion in revenue between 2009 and 2014, had hired only about 100 out of thousands of Singapore-qualified lawyers. Foreign law firms had given local ones a run for their money.”
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Law Ministry rebuts Lee Hsien Yang’s wife

The Law Ministry (MinLaw) has rebutted the wife of the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, had alleged in a lecture organised by the Law Society last month that the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme has not benefited local lawyers sufficiently.

The Law Ministry took issue with her assertion about QFLP (a scheme started in 2008 which opens up the local legal sector to foreign law firms) and said that the scheme has set-up Singapore to be a regional legal centre.

Public displays of disagreements between the Lee family and the Government headed by the elder Lee are highly unusual. Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s older sister, Lee Wei Ling, had recently taken her brother Lee Hsien Loong to task for the hero-worship of their father, Lee Kuan Yew. Prime Minister Lee had denounced his sister’s accusations as “completely untrue”.

related: Has Lee Hsien Yang’s wife taken sides with Dr Lee Wei Ling in the famiLEE feud?

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