THE long-time friend of 87-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun, whose $40 million assets are being contested over, has dismissed suggestions that she is the mistress of the widow's late husband.
Madam Chang Phie Chin, 84, said it was "ridiculous" that her relationship with the late Dr Chou Sip King was being questioned.
Last week, former Chinese tour guide Yang Yin had, in his affidavit, claimed that Madam Chang shared "an extremely close relationship" with Dr Chou. He even offered to reveal photographs of their relationship in court.
Mr Yang is embroiled in a tussle with Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, over the widow's assets, which includes a $30 million bungalow in Seletar Hills.
But Madam Chang slammed his assertions and said that her friendship with the couple started more than 50 years ago.
She told The Straits Times last night that she first got to know the couple after visiting Dr Chou's clinic at Serangoon in 1958 as a patient.
Dr Chou's niece, who worked there as a receptionist, introduced her to the couple. She hit it off with Madam Chung as both of them were Hakkas.
"Our grandfathers were from the same district in the Guangdong province," she said in Mandarin.
"Until today, we speak to each other in Hakka. She is like an older sister to me."
Apart from their common Hakka dialect, Madam Chang, who is single and does not have any siblings, said she shared a love for travelling with the couple.
From 1989 to 2001, they travelled to China, Thailand and India.
"Both Dr Chou and his wife loved to see the scenic views of mountains and sea in China," said Madam Chang.
They stayed in separate hotel rooms during the vacations, she said.
After she had retired from teaching in 1985, Madam Chang made more frequent trips to visit the couple.
During her visits, they would chit-chat and enjoy each other's company.
In 2005, Dr Chou's health took a turn for the worse and the couple asked Madam Chang to live with them at their Gerald Crescent bungalow, she said.
"I told them, how could I possibly afford (paying rent) to stay in a bungalow?" said Madam Chang.
"They said, 'No, it is your company that we want and talking about money spoils our relationship.'"
After Dr Chou died in 2007, Madam Chang said that she continued to live in the bungalow, keeping Madam Chung company.
But after Mr Yang moved in with them in September 2009, she decided to move out because she was uncomfortable with his relationship with Madam Chung and the widow would not heed her warnings about the former tour guide.
She applied for a Housing Board studio flat in Havelock Road and moved there in 2011.
Now she feels responsible for Madam Chung's current situation because she was the one who had originally arranged for Mr Yang to be their tour guide when they went to Beijing together in 2008.
"If I didn't introduce them, all these things wouldn't have happened," she said with a sigh.
"After all this is over, if my best friend still accepts me, I don't mind moving back to live with her. She is, after all, my only sister."