'No' to call to settle with ex-tour guide

Widow's niece rejects High Court's request to consider mediation

In a fresh twist, the High Court has asked former China tour guide Yang Yin and Madam Hedy Mok, who had sued Yang for allegedly manipulating her aunt into handing over her assets, to consider resolving their legal disputes out of court through mediation.

But the request was swiftly rejected by Madam Mok.

"There is nothing to mediate... My aunt is well and happy and she certainly wants what was taken from her returned," she told The Sunday Times.

In a letter dated Aug 26 seen by The Sunday Times, the Supreme Court Registrar invited Yang, 41, and Madam Mok, a 61-year-old tour agency owner, to consider having their case mediated at the Singapore Mediation Centre. This would allow both parties to talk directly to each other through a mediator, instead of going through their lawyers, the letter said.

"The parties may wish to note that more than 70 per cent of the cases referred by the Supreme Court to the Singapore Mediation Centre are resolved, and more than 90 per cent of the resolutions are arrived at within a working day, resulting in considerable time and costs savings," the letter said.

Both parties had until last Friday to decide if they were agreeable to mediation. Madam Mok told The Sunday Times that she has already instructed her lawyer Peter Doraisamy to inform the court that she is not agreeable.

Madam Mok had sued Yang in the High Court for allegedly manipulating her 88-year-old aunt, Madam Chung Khin Chun, into handing over control of her assets estimated to be worth $40 million.

When contacted, Yang's lawyer Joseph Liow declined to disclose Yang's response to the mediation invitation, saying only: "I can confirm that in almost all cases in the High Court, the Singapore Mediation Centre does invite parties to consider mediation."

He added that there are two cases under appeal.

Madam Mok has appealed against a High Court decision in April which allowed Yang to cash out two life insurance policies to pay his legal bills. On Wednesday, the State Court decided in a separate hearing that the policies would remain untouched until Madam Mok's civil suit against Yang in the High Court is settled.

At the same time, Yang is appealing against a Family Court decision in April which recognised a new will made by Madam Chung leaving most of her assets to charity. This revokes a 2010 will in which Yang was to inherit all her assets.

The life insurance policies appeal will be heard at the Court of Appeal and the will appeal at the High Court, Mr Liow added.

Yang had met Madam Chung, a retired physiotherapist, in 2008 when he acted as her private guide during a China trip. A year later, he moved into her bungalow and claimed the widow wanted him to be her "grandson".

Apart from the civil court cases, Yang has been charged with falsifying receipts at his company and misappropriating $1.1 million from the estate of Madam Chung. He has been in remand since Oct 31 last year after his bail application was denied.

The trial date for the High Court suit brought by Madam Mok against Yang is tentatively fixed for March next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline ''No' to call to settle with ex-tour guide'. Print Edition | Subscribe