Tussle over widow's assets: Court may rule on mental capacity

Associate Professor Chiam Peak Chiang, senior consultant in the Department of Geriatric Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The Family Court is expected to decide on Monday whether a rich widow has the mental capacity to change her mind over who should look after her welfare and assets worth $40 million.

The closed-door hearing on 87-year-old Madam Chung Khin Chun's bid to cancel the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) she granted to former China tour guide Yang Yin in 2012 was adjourned yesterday.

The court called its second expert witness, Professor Chiam Peak Chiang, a senior consultant at the Institute of Mental Heath (IMH), to give her testimony.

She was appointed by the court last month to examine Madam Chung and her report was submitted to the courts earlier this month.

Her testimony, which lasted nearly two hours, came after another psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, was called to testify on Thursday about his examination of Madam Chung in September.

Dr Fones, who is in private practice, had previously certified that the widow had the mental capacity to cancel the LPA.

On the basis of his report, Madam Chung applied to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) in September for it to be cancelled.

The OPG then applied to the court to have an independent medical expert from the IMH examine Madam Chung, while suspending Yang's powers under the LPA.

The OPG said the move was "necessary to safeguard and protect the interests and assets of Madam Chung". It added that it would make a decision on the cancellation of the LPA after the court makes a ruling on her mental capacity.

Madam Chung, who was diagnosed with dementia this year, met 40-year-old Yang in Beijing in 2008.

Her niece Hedy Mok, 60, has accused him of manipulating the widow to seize control of her $40 million worth of assets, which included a $30 million bungalow.

She has also sued him in the High Court for abusing his powers as Madam Chung's guardian under the LPA scheme and is seeking damages.

Yang is on police remand after being charged with faking 331 of his firm's receipts.

He is also being probed by the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority on how he obtained his Employment Pass in 2009 and permanent residency in 2011.

The criminal charges against Yang will be next heard at the State Courts on Dec 4.


This article was first published on Nov 22, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.