Mum says transfer was just a 'joke'

PHOTO: Mum says transfer was just a 'joke'

SINGAPORE - A 91-year-old woman suing her two daughters over her five-room Housing Board flat on Friday claimed her late husband was only "joking" when he suggested making the sisters joint owners.

Madam Eileen Chia Yoke Mui told the High Court that the couple added Madam Yvonne Goh Mei Ling, 62 and Madam Yvette Goh Meich'ang, 52, to the tenancy only after the elder daughter "badgered" them.

The couple agreed to the change, which took effect in April 2010, because they wanted "peace and quiet", the widow told the court on Friday.

Her husband Dennis Goh Chin Chye, who was 94 when he died on March 5, was a pioneer of the scouts movement here and a well-respected former Anglo-Chinese School physical education teacher.

Speaking in English with her right hand shaking continually, Madam Chia insisted her late husband was not serious when he suggested putting his daughters' names on the tenancy.

"We laugh, we joke, that is our family... he was just teasing."

She added that the couple, who also have two sons, had always intended to leave the flat equally to all four of their children.

But they also thought about selling or mortgaging the flat to provide for their living expenses.

Madam Chia claims that she was misled into thinking her daughters, even as joint tenants, would have no right to stop her from selling the flat.

Under joint tenancy, the property can be sold only if all sides agree. And when an owner dies, his share goes to the other owners.

Defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell, who cross-examined Madam Chia for two hours, focused on the events of Dec 31, 2009.

That was when the couple and their two daughters visited the HDB branch office in Clementi to apply for the transfer.

He argued that Mr Goh had been serious all along, which was why they made the visit.

Mr Dodwell also argued that the HDB officer who served them had explained the implications of the move to all present. Madam Chia was aware of the significance when she signed, he said.

But she denied that the ramifications of the transfer had been explained to her.

The trial resumes today.

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