Wife of Singaporean held in Batam selling flat to pay for lawyers' fees

A Batam immigration officer showing a picture of Mr Lim Yong Nam, who was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal on Oct 23. The businessman is wanted by the US for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran.
A Batam immigration officer showing a picture of Mr Lim Yong Nam, who was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal on Oct 23. The businessman is wanted by the US for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran.PHOTO: JAKARTA POST

The wife of a Singaporean man who has been detained in Batam for over 50 days has resorted to selling her flat in a last-ditch attempt to get her husband back.

Mrs May Lim, 40, told The Straits Times that she has spent all her savings on legal fees to try to bring her husband Lim Yong Nam, 40, back to Singapore.

She plans to use the funds from selling her three-bedroom apartment to pay for lawyers' fees in Indonesia.

Mr Lim was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal when he sought to enter Indonesia on Oct 23 to attend a trade exhibition to source for business. He has been detained in Batam since, even though he has not committed an offence in Indonesia.

The businessman, who is on an Interpol list, is wanted by the United States for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran.

The US had accused Mr Lim of acquiring 6,000 radio frequency modules for export to Iran and had asked for his extradition in 2011. But he was not extradited, as Singapore's High Court found that the wrongdoing he was accused of was not an offence here.

"This is the second time my daughters' father has been taken away from them," said Mrs Lim, recalling her earlier ordeal when her husband was first arrested from their home in 2011. "My children ask me for their father every day. I can only tell them that their dad will be back soon."

Mrs Lim said she has been struggling to support the family since her husband fell into depression in 2011 after his arrest.

He did not know he was on the Interpol notice when he travelled to Batam, she added.

She and their two daughters, aged two and five, have since moved out to live with her parents. She has been travelling to the police headquarters in Batam twice a week to visit Mr Lim.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Lim has been on Interpol's list since September last year, even though he did not encounter any problems when he travelled to Jakarta that month.

After his arrest this October, the US Attorney-General made a request to the Indonesian government to extradite him last month, even though Indonesia does not have an extradition treaty with the US. As a result, Mr Lim's detention in Batam was extended by another 30 days.

Mr Lim's lawyer has written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, appealing for Mr Lim to be deported to Singapore as he had been found by the Singapore courts to have not committed an offence.

Mr Lim's fate remains unclear. When contacted, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said she did not have any updates on his case. Indonesian National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told The Straits Times last week that they are "still coordinating with Interpol".

Mrs Lim is still clinging to the hope that her husband can make it back to Singapore for their daughter's Kindergarten 1 graduation ceremony on Saturday, as his 30-day detention will be up tomorrow.

"I wish the Singapore Government can do more to help us. My husband has already been tried and has proven his innocence here. Please do not abandon us."

joycel@sph.com.sg