Ex-tour guide Yang Yin tries to approach widow and her niece in court

Yang looked tense as he was led into the courtroom yesterday. He tried to make eye contact with Madam Chung and Madam Mok and shuffled towards  them, but Madam Mok waved him off and court marshals led him away.
Yang looked tense as he was led into the courtroom yesterday. He tried to make eye contact with Madam Chung and Madam Mok and shuffled towards them, but Madam Mok waved him off and court marshals led him away. ST ILLUSTRATION: CHNG CHOON HIONG

He has not been seen or heard in public for almost two years since he was locked away in Changi Prison.

When former China tour guide Yang Yin was led into the courtroom yesterday morning, he was wearing purple overalls with the label "prisoner" on his back.

His hair was neatly cropped and his hands and legs were in chains.

"He seemed to have lost weight," said Madam Chang Phie Chin, a family friend of widow Chung Khin Chun, 89, who was in court.

 
 

Yang, 42, was standing trial yesterday for allegedly duping the authorities into granting him permanent residency. He has also been charged with falsifying receipts and stealing $1.1 million from Madam Chung.

Madam Hedy Mok, the widow's niece, has also sued him for allegedly manipulating the widow to control her assets, estimated to be worth $40 million.

Yang looked tense as he was led into the courtroom through a side door. He scanned the room for familiar faces and in the barely filled public gallery, he spotted two - Madam Chung and Madam Mok.

He tried to make eye contact and shuffled towards them, but Madam Mok waved him off and court marshals led him away. It was the first time in nearly two years that Yang and Madam Chung had seen each other.

Yang stood solemnly in the dock as his lawyer Wee Pan Lee was rapped by Deputy Presiding Judge of the State Courts Jennifer Marie for being late. Mr Wee apologised for being late and said he had to go for another pre-trial conference in the morning.

Mr Wee said Yang was prepared to plead guilty, but the lawyer asked for a short break to study the statement of facts that the prosecution gave him less than two weeks ago.

 

Related Stories: 

But the judge wanted to hear from Yang directly that he was prepared to plead guilty.

A female court interpreter whispered the judge's instruction to Yang and replied in English on his behalf: "I confirm, your Honour."

When Yang returned to the court after a one-hour break, he saw Madam Chung and Madam Mok again.

He walked towards them but was pulled away by court marshals. Losing his composure, he shouted at them in Mandarin: "Reflect on what you have done!"

Madam Mok held the arm of her elderly aunt and waved Yang away. They left after the morning hearing and did not return for the afternoon session.

Before leaving, Madam Chung was asked how she felt about seeing Yang. "I don't feel anything. I don't know what to think," she said.

Meanwhile, the tussle between Yang and the widow over her will looks set to continue.

In 2010, Madam Chung made a will in which Yang stood to inherit everything. But in April last year, the courts recognised a new statutory will that Madam Mok made on behalf of her aunt, under which most of the assets would go to charity.

Yang appealed on grounds of a procedural failure as the judge had denied his lawyers the chance to cross-examine witnesses who gave evidence to support the application for the new will.

The appeal was dismissed last month but Yang made a court application to be allowed to appeal again. A closed-door hearing was held last Friday, with the names of the parties unusually redacted from the High Court's public hearing list.

When contacted, the lawyers for Yang and Madam Mok declined to comment.

The Straits Times understands that the application was unsuccessful but the law allows Yang a final shot to take the appeal to the Court of Appeal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Accused tries to approach widow and her niece in court'. Print Edition | Subscribe