Country club caught up in suit after suit

The fallout from last year's Singapore Island Country Club general election event has galloped into the new year with one court spat ending, another beginning and a third still going on.

The club's former general manager Sylvan Braberry has dropped a defamation suit against four members while long-time club member Gwee Peng Hong is seeking a court order to force the club to reconvene last year's special general meeting.

Both moves in the High Court last month relate to events during the run-up to last September's hard-fought general committee elections which saw weeks of intense lobbying by those competing to take over the running of the club.

Mr Braberry, then general manager, had taken offence at alleged remarks about him in separate e-mail messages sent by the four members to others between Aug 24 and Sept 4 last year.

The defendants, consisting of long-time member Goh Ho Hwee, then club treasurer Hong Pian Tee, finance sub-committee member Chia Ping Kheong and then golf captain Andrew Lim, filed a raft of court papers disputing the claims.

Several exchanges followed but last month, Mr Braberry discharged his lawyers and, acting in person, applied to drop the suit.

He said in court documents filed that allegations raised in his suit were no longer material or of practical importance to him as he had resigned from the club in November last year.

He made clear that he had resigned for reasons unrelated to the suit.

Mr Braberry, 53, stressed there was no longer a pressing need to defend his position as he was no longer general manager and dropping the suit was not a concession or acknowledgement of "likely defeat".

High Court assistant registrar Paul Tan allowed his application to drop the suit but ordered Mr Braberry to pay more than $68,000 in legal costs to the four defendants. It is understood that he is considering an appeal against this.

Meanwhile, four days after his suit ended, long-time club member Mr Gwee, represented by lawyer Suresh Divyanathan, filed a separate suit seeking a court order to compel the club to reconvene a special general meeting that had been held on Sept 27 last year - the same day as its annual general meeting. The extraordinary general meeting had been held to consider passing a vote of no confidence in a certain club member.

Mr Gwee wants club president Tay Joo Soon - who was re-elected last September - to comply with all motions that were moved at the EGM. 

Mr Gwee also wants the cost of the suit to be paid by the president personally, according to court papers filed.

A High Court pre-trial conference is due in 10 days time.

Mr Gwee, 65, the managing director of a trading firm, also hit the news last month when he shaved off his hair to raise $70,000 for charity.

Mr Tay, through the club's Allen & Gledhill lawyer Ramesh Selvaraj, yesterday said he would refrain from commenting "as the matter is before the court".

Meanwhile, in a third court matter, club member Lai Chong Meng is mulling over his next move after the identity of "Zoro" - a fellow club member who allegedly made defamatory comments about him on the club's online forum - was revealed to him


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