Top court dismisses appeal of woman on 'quest for revenge'

She is also ordered to pay costs in legal action linked to doctor who sued her for defamation

Ms Serene Tiong's case was "wholly unmeritorious" and she was clearly on a "quest for revenge", Justice Andrew Phang said yesterday. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Ms Serene Tiong's case was "wholly unmeritorious" and she was clearly on a "quest for revenge", Justice Andrew Phang said yesterday. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A woman said to be on a "quest for revenge" against a doctor had her appeal dismissed yesterday.

Ms Serene Tiong, who was sued for defamation by Dr Julian Ong, had sought the court's permission to sue HC Surgical Specialists (HCSS) chief executive Heah Sieu Min on behalf of HCSS for alleged breach of director's duties relating to the company buying an additional 19 per cent stake in Dr Ong's firm.

The High Court dismissed her application last year after it found that she had a vendetta and lacked good faith.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal against last year's judgment, noting that Ms Tiong was driven by revenge and has a history of conflict with Dr Ong and his friend, Dr Chan Herng Nieng. The appeal was dismissed on the grounds that an adequate case to allow the appeal had not been made by Ms Tiong.

In 2018, Ms Tiong made a complaint against Dr Ong and Dr Chan, alleging they had colluded to have sex with vulnerable female patients.

Prior to the complaint, Dr Chan was having an affair with Ms Tiong, who was also his patient. She had checked his phone and found a number of messages between him and Dr Ong where they smugly boasted of their trysts with various women and described their sexual conquests in demeaning terms.

Ms Tiong had circulated the complaint, and Dr Ong sued her for defamation.

The Singapore Medical Council is currently still investigating, but had imposed restrictions on Dr Ong and Dr Chan last year.

On Sept 25, 2019, Ms Tiong bought 100 shares in HCSS so she could attend the company's annual general meeting the next day and raise concerns about the 19 per cent acquisition.

Ms Tiong alleged that Dr Heah had breached his duties to act with reasonable diligence, and that he had failed to recuse himself from the decision-making for the 19 per cent acquisition in Dr Ong's firm.

Last year, the High Court, in explaining why it dismissed Ms Tiong's application with costs, said she was "so motivated by vendetta, perceived or real, that judgment will be clouded by purely personal considerations".

Yesterday, Justice Andrew Phang said Ms Tiong's case was "wholly unmeritorious" and she was clearly on a "quest for revenge". Even if the intended legal action were successful, it would be devoid of use to the firm, he added.

He noted that the company had acted in its own business interests, and rubbished claims of Ms Tiong's supposed commercial interest in the firm as the shares she bought just a day before its AGM were worth only about $44.

"We recognise that Ms Tiong suffered deep, emotional scars, but legal relief must come via the correct route," said Justice Phang.

Ms Tiong was ordered to pay costs of $15,000 to the company and $30,000 to Dr Heah.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2021, with the headline 'Top court dismisses appeal of woman on 'quest for revenge''. Subscribe