Tussle over widow's fortune: "We had only each other when young"

Tussle over widow's fortune: "We had only each other when young"
Madam Doris Chung holds a photo of her younger self with her father (passport photo), stepmother, stepbrother and sister Khin Chun.

SINGAPORE - The 12m-long pool at her sister's bungalow in Gerald Crescent is more than a showpiece.

According to 88-year-old Doris Chung, her younger sister developed a passion for swimming while growing up, after picking up the sport as a way to control her asthma.

"She won trophies in schools. Even after she grew old, she continued to swim once or twice a week," she said.

Her sister is Madam Chung Khin Chun, the 87-year-old widow who has given control of her $40 million assets, including the bungalow, to a tour guide from China.

Madam Doris Chung's daughter Hedy Mok, a travel agency owner, is now embroiled in a court battle to recover control of the assets from 40-year-old Mr Yang Yin.

Pictures of her younger sister adorn the living room of the Simei Housing Board flat where Madam Doris Chung lives.

They were born in Indonesia to Chinese parents. Their father was a mining engineer and they grew up in Jakarta.

Their mother died when they were toddlers and their father remarried.

"The two of us had only each other when we were young," the older sister told The Straits Times yesterday.

She was speaking to the media for the first time since news of the court tussle became public last week.

Both sisters married Singaporeans and moved here, Madam Doris Chung in 1947 after she married a harbour police inspector.

He died in 1973 and she remarried an artist, who died in 1986.

When her younger sister, a retired physiotherapist, opened a clinic at People's Park in the 1970s, Madam Doris Chung worked there as an office assistant.

While she went on to have four daughters with her first husband, her younger sister was left childless.

Madam Doris Chung revealed that she offered to let her sister adopt her youngest child, Deborah, who is now 56 and runs her own restaurant in California. "I wanted to let her adopt my daughter when she was a baby. She'll still be in the same family."

But while her sister was open to the idea, her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, a general practitioner who died in 2007, was not keen, said Madam Doris Chung.

"If I had given my daughter to my sister and her husband, I don't think these things would have happened," she said, referring to the current legal issues.

After Dr Chou's death, she would visit her sister twice a month, bringing home-cooked food. But she did not meet Mr Yang until Chinese New Year this year, even though the former tour guide had been living at the bungalow since 2009.

"He is always in the bedroom and won't come out," she added.

Madam Doris Chung said she "felt sorry" about the troubles faced by her sister, who was diagnosed with dementia this year and is now staying with Madam Mok.

"She is not like me," she said with a sigh.

"She's very reserved and doesn't open up (easily to people). She always said 'I'm fine' when I asked how she was."


This article was first published on Sept 13, 2014.
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