HK judge rejects appeal bid by S'porean woman

Madam Kay lived with Mr Ng for nearly 30 years. He got dementia around 2012 and was moved back to Johor in 2013.
Madam Kay lived with Mr Ng for nearly 30 years. He got dementia around 2012 and was moved back to Johor in 2013.ST FILE PHOTO

Court affirms ruling that the son should instead act for businessman with dementia

A Hong Kong judge recently refused permission for a Singaporean woman to appeal against his order that she be removed from acting for her de facto spouse in a suit over business interests there.

Madam Kay Swee Pin, 64, managing director of travel agency SA Tours, had been appointed in August 2013 to act for Mr Ng Kong Yeam in Hong Kong in relation to his suit there when it emerged he was mentally incapacitated.

Mr Ng, 77, was the former boss of SA Tours, and the Hong Kong court accepted that Madam Kay was his mistress and had cohabited with him for nearly 30 years before she and his family decided to move him back to Johor after he started suffering from dementia.

Given his dementia, which started around 2012, the court had accepted there was an "apparently irretrievable breakdown of relationship between Dato Ng and Madam Kay" since July 2013 and he was looked after by his family in Johor Baru.

There was no explanation why she applied to become his "next friend" to act for him in the suit after she had broken off with him, said Hong Kong High Court Recorder Jason Pow in judgment grounds released last year that is the subject of the current appeal.

It is understood Mr Ng's Hong Kong lawyers made the move based on a general power of attorney executed by Mr Ng in 2010 in Hong Kong for her to act for him.

But in December 2013, a Malaysian court appointed his four children as a committee to administer his affairs after declaring him mentally incapable. His son, Mr Ng Chung San, then applied to the Hong Kong court to replace Madam Kay and act on his father's behalf in the suit that the older Ng had initiated against four defendants there in 2011 but was unable to continue because of his dementia.

Madam Kay countered Mr Ng was not fit to take over and she was a better choice as she had full knowledge of the underlying facts in the suit.

Judge Pow wrote in his judgment grounds: "Given the breakdown of relationship; given the fact that Dato Ng had returned to the care of his wife and children in Malaysia; and given that the Malaysian High Court had appointed the committee to take care of the interest and affairs of Dato Ng, why is Madam Kay still insisting on acting as the next friend of Dato Ng in this Hong Kong proceedings?"

The court noted she was unable to show that she remained close to Mr Ng after the relationship broke down in 2013, unlike his family who are now taking care of him, but added she could still offer herself as a factual witness if she wanted to help him.

There was also a series of litigation launched by the family against Madam Kay here which the court noted she had not tried to challenge by filing an affidavit in the Hong Kong court to render her version.

Among other things, the judge cited the Singapore court decision where she sued the Singapore Island Country Club for libel and the judge found she had lied about her marital status when she declared Mr Ng was her spouse in 1992.

The judge also mentioned the Singapore episode where her lawyer- sister Kay Swee Tuan admitted she did not actually witness Mr Ng signing a lasting power of attorney for Madam Kay, according to the declaration by Singapore lawyer Sum Chong Mun. Expressing "grave doubts"about Madam Kay, the judge affirmed her removal and replacement by the younger Ng.

Madam Kay then applied for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against his order and last month, Judge Pow ruled after examining her submissions that she was unable to show her appeal grounds would "have reasonable prospect of success", if allowed to proceed.

The judge ordered her to bear the costs of the appeal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'HK judge rejects appeal bid by S'porean woman'. Print Edition | Subscribe