After one year of suing one another and one day of trial, a legal battle between an 89-year-old widow and a son against three of her other sons ended with both sides reaching a settlement yesterday.
Defence counsel Thomas Toh and the plaintiffs' lawyer Alywin Goh said the family feud over property and $200,000 was settled amicably, but the terms are confidential.
After hours of negotiations, the four brothers, surrounding their mother who was in a wheelchair, shook hands outside the courtroom. When approached, Madam Tan Lwee made a gesture indicating she was hard of hearing.
Co-plaintiff Lim Chin Hwa, 55, said in Mandarin: "It has been resolved, let the matter rest."
His youngest brother Chin Sin, 47 - who is one of the defendants, together with eldest brother Chin Keng, in his 60s, and Chin Hong, 59 - said he was satisfied with the outcome.
"Our main concern all this while was to ensure that our mother's rights are being protected," he said.
In the suit, Madam Tan alleged that Chin Sin had blocked her access to a sum of $200,000, which she said her late husband, egg farmer Lim Yoke Swee, had paid her to make amends for his infidelity and abusive behaviour.
Her husband set a condition that the money, deposited in a bank account held by herself, Chin Hwa and Chin Sin, can be withdrawn only if all three account holders agree. Chin Sin countered that this was to prevent Madam Tan from being influenced into withdrawing the money in one lump sum.
He said his father had also mandated that the money cannot be withdrawn unless the three defendants see her regularly.
The illiterate housewife, who has eight children, also contended that even though she was named as the co-owner of three Housing Board shophouses in Teck Whye, Serangoon and Jurong, she has never received any rental income from the properties. The defendants argued their father never intended to give Madam Tan any share in the properties and included her name only "for convenience".
They counter-sued Madam Tan for the matrimonial flat, claiming it belongs to their father's estate, though she is the legal owner.
According to the plaintiffs, the relationship between Madam Tan and her husband broke down in 2009, after she found out he was having an affair with their domestic helper.
She moved out of their matrimonial flat in Bukit Panjang to live with Chin Hwa and began divorce proceedings in 2010, which ended after the $200,000 offer.
She was living in Chin Hwa's home, fifth son Chin Lam's home, and an old folks' home between 2010 and 2011.