Office of Public Guardian lodged report against ex-China tour guide

Former China tour guide Yang Yin (right) made headlines due to his involvement in a legal tussle over a wealthy widow's assets, estimated to be worth $40 million.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has revealed it lodged a report against former China tour guide Yang Yin after it emerged he had boasted about his wealth and lavish lifestyle online.

The 40-year-old had posted on Chinese social networking site Weibo: "Let my cash vault grow towards $50 million."

This was in September 2012, two months after he obtained a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) from Madam Chung Khin Chun, giving him control of the 87-year-old widow's assets, estimated to be worth $40 million.

"We reported this to the Commercial Affairs Department, highlighting our concern of possible financial abuse," said state-appointed Public Guardian Daniel Koh yesterday.

The OPG report was made on Wednesday last week, and on the same day Mr Yang was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust.

He has also been accused by Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, 60, of manipulating her aunt into making him her guardian. On Tuesday, Madam Chung applied to revoke the LPA.

The OPG yesterday said it was reviewing the application, but would not be drawn into saying when a decision would be made.

An LPA is a legal document that allows a person to appoint another to make key decisions should he lose the mental ability to do so. Anyone who is at least 21 years old can sign one.

Mr Koh assured the public that there are enough safeguards to prevent abuse of the LPA scheme.

Not only do LPAs have to be certified by experts - such as a doctor or a lawyer - and approved by the OPG, but the body also has the powers to investigate complaints of abuse.

Last week, two OPG board members also visited Madam Chung, who is now living with her niece. "We found that her well-being was OK, she was comfortable in the environment, so we left her there," Mr Koh said.

But he also made it plain that the onus was on LPA applicants to make sure they pick a trustworthy guardian - it is not the OPG's responsibility to judge "the quality" of the decision.

Since the scheme was launched four years ago, "most people are using the LPA without a lot of fuss", said Mr Koh, adding that Madam Chung's case was "probably the only case" of alleged abuse.

Around 6,500 people have signed up for the scheme.

Meanwhile, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has made it clear that foreigners do not get extra points for volunteering in grassroots associations when it comes to applying for permanent residency or citizenship.

Mr Yang, who moved into Madam Chung's $30 million Gerald Crescent bungalow in 2009, was a member of the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee from July 5 last year to Sept 8 this year.

Pictures of him at grassroots activities have surfaced online.

"Volunteering in community service such as in People's Association grassroots organisations... has not been part of ICA's criteria when assessing Singapore citizenship or permanent resident (PR) applications," a spokesman said. The ICA is still probing Mr Yang's PR status.

tohyc@sph.com.sg

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg

Lasting Power of Attorney: How it works

MAKING IT

The donor appoints the donee by completing a form, which is certified by a lawyer, psychiatrist or doctor. The donor then registers it with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

USING IT

The donee takes over affairs when the donor loses mental capacity. The OPG can check on the donor's welfare.

SAFEGUARDS

Third parties can check the validity of the form or ask for a medical report. Anyone can blow the whistle on possible wrongdoing and the OPG will investigate.


This article was first published on Sept 27, 2014.
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