Adopted son of boss of Five Star Hainanese Kampung Chicken Rice not told of dad's death

Mr Derek Yeo, 28, a manager at a Chinese restaurant, said he found out about his father's death only after the funeral was over.
Mr Derek Yeo, 28, a manager at a Chinese restaurant, said he found out about his father's death only after the funeral was over.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MR DEREK YEO, HEDY KHOO

SINGAPORE - The death of Mr Yeo Ban Seng of Five Star Hainanese Kampung Chicken Rice Restaurants has led to a family conflict - after his adopted son took to Facebook to air his unhappiness over how he was not told of his father's death.

Mr Yeo, former chairman of Five Star, died on Feb 15 and his funeral was held on Feb 19, according to an obituary in Lianhe Zaobao. The obituary stated his age as 69.

His adopted son, Mr Derek Yeo, 28, a manager at a Chinese restaurant, said he found out about his father's death only after the funeral was over.

A friend had sent him a condolence message via Instagram.

Mr Yeo told The Straits Times: "I was confused upon receiving the message as my friend did not state who had died."

He learnt it was his father only after the same friend sent him screenshots of a Facebook friend's online tribute to the late Mr Yeo.

The younger Mr Yeo said he made repeated calls to a relative and his elder sister to try to verify if his father had indeed died, but he could not reach them.

He subsequently found the obituary for his father online.

Five Star, which is known for its chicken rice, has three outlets, including one in East Coast Road.

In a Facebook post which he wrote on Feb 19, the younger Mr Yeo said he was denied the chance to apologise and thank his father. He added that he was enraged that he was not given an opportunity to show his gratitude to his father.

On Feb 21, he wrote another post, asking his family to give him an explanation for not informing him of his father's death and to tell him where his father's ashes are kept.

Both these posts are now no longer visible on his Facebook page.

Responding to ST queries, the family of the late Mr Yeo said in a statement that they have been harassed by the younger Mr Yeo after the former chairman's death.

They noted in the statement that Derek was Mr Yeo Ban Seng's adopted son and left the family in 2013, at the age of 21.

"Yeo Ban Seng had subsequently disowned and legally severed all ties with Derek as he had been a source of embarrassment to the family."

The statement alleged that the younger Mr Yeo had used the family's and companies' names without their consent.

The family said: "Yeo Ban Seng specifically instructed us not to contact Derek at all and did not want Derek to be present at his funeral."

The family said that relatives of the family were aware of the late Mr Yeo's wishes.

They added that Derek's social media posts are causing distress to the late Mr Yeo's widow and family, and asked for the press and the public to respect their privacy and allow them to mourn in private.

In a phone interview with ST, the younger Mr Yeo said he was estranged from his family when he left home at age 21.

He said: "At that time, I was young and rebellious and mistook my father's concern to be controlling."

His father had disapproved of his relationship with his then girlfriend.

For two years, Mr Derek Yeo refused to contact his family after leaving home. But he disputes misusing his family's name or that of the family business.

It was only in 2016 that a relative revealed to him that he was adopted.

By then, Mr Yeo regretted his past actions and wanted to see his father, but was told by his relative that his father did not wish to have anything to do with him.

Mr Yeo said a friend later helped him locate his father's niche. Mr Yeo went to pay his respects on Friday (Feb 28).

He said: "I am not after any inheritance. I just want my family to tell me why I was not informed of my father's death. Whatever has happened, my father did take care of me since I was a child and brought me up, and he imparted a lot of wisdom to me. For this I am grateful and I simply wanted a chance to thank him."