Court tussle over running of home for senior citizens

Judge dismisses bid by incumbent members of panel to stop new group from unseating them

The High Court dismissed a move by some incumbent committee members managing a senior citizens' home to stop an incoming group from unseating them, in a rare spat involving two well-known businessmen.

Justice Choo Han Teck found that incumbent vice-chairman A. Selvadurai Hallman had no valid grounds to stop incoming chairman R. Theyvendran's group from forming the new management committee of the Sasco Senior Citizens' Home. The home operates under the Singapore Amalgamated Services Co-operative Organisation.

"There can be no dispute that the current committee was validly appointed in accordance with the by-laws of Sasco Home," Justice Choo said in judgment grounds last week.

"If the concern is that there needs to be investigation into improprieties on the part of Sasco Ltd or Sasco Home, the plaintiff is no doubt at liberty to approach the relevant authorities to assist in such investigations," he added.

Sasco Home, a registered charity, provides board, lodging and care for senior citizens, including day care for the elderly.

Dr Theyvendran is chairman and owner of Stamford Media International, and secretary-general of the Management Development Institute of Singapore, among other things.

Mr Selvadurai is a businessman who made news in 2004 when at age 37 he married the heiress of German steel group Theis Stahltechnologie.

Earlier this year, he applied for a court order for him and several others to remain in the home's management committee. He had also applied to nullify the nominations of several individuals made by the cooperative at a July 5 general meeting.

The cooperative's executive council chairman, Dr Theyvendran, who also chairs the home's committee, filed the defence affidavit on the cooperative's behalf. The home's committee is appointed by the cooperative's executive council, subject to certain conditions.

Mr Selvadurai, represented by lawyer Gabriel Lee, had claimed that because of certain alleged wrongdoings, the home had to cut links with the cooperative, which he and his team would do if appointed.

But the cooperative's lawyer, Mr M. Lukshumayeh, countered that the alleged wrongdoings took place well before the incoming team was appointed, while the home and the cooperative were in the control of people eventually ousted by Dr Theyvendran and his team.

In dismissing the application, Justice Choo ordered that $10,000 costs plus disbursement be paid to the defendant by Mr Selvadurai.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'Court tussle over running of home for senior citizens'. Print Edition | Subscribe