Woman on 'quest for revenge' has appeal dismissed, ordered to pay costs

The Court of Appeal noted that Ms Serene Tiong was driven by revenge and has a history of conflict with Dr Julian Ong. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS, DRJULIANONG.SG

SINGAPORE - A woman on a "quest for revenge" against a doctor had her appeal dismissed on Wednesday (April 7).

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.

On Wednesday, 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 that 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 offensive messages between him and Dr Ong. The men had smugly boasted of their trysts with various women and gloatingly 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, a day before HCSS' annual general meeting (AGM), Ms Tiong bought 100 shares in the company.

She did so to attend the AGM and raise concerns about the 19 per cent acquisition.

Ms Tiong alleged that Dr Heah 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 company.

Ms Serene Tiong alleged that Dr Heah Sieu Min (above) breached his duties to act with reasonable diligence. PHOTO: ST FILE

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".

On Wednesday, Justice Andrew Phang said Ms Tiong's case was "wholly unmeritorious" and that she was clearly on a "quest for revenge".

Even if the intended legal action were successful, it would be devoid of use to the company, the judge said.

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

"Her central motive is revenge," said Justice Phang.

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

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

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