For more than two hours on the stand yesterday, former China tour guide Yang Yin gave his side of the story in a saga that has transfixed Singapore.
Accused of siphoning $1.1 million from a rich, childless widow, he told the court that 89-year-old Chung Khin Chun had gifted him the money and willed him the rest of her assets, worth an estimated $40 million and including a bungalow at Gerald Crescent, in exchange for his companionship. She saw him as the "grandson" she never had, he said.
"I felt very lucky... She asked me to be by her side forever, not to leave her. I agreed," said the 42-year-old, who in 2014 was sued by Madam Chung's niece Hedy Mok. She claimed he had unduly influenced her aunt, who was diagnosed with dementia that year.
"In 2011, (Madam Mok) knew that Madam Chung had gifted me the money. Why didn't she make the report then? Madam Chung was still clear in her head, she could still testify," said Yang. He also claimed that Madam Chung's close friend, Madam Chang Phie Chin, 86, who had lived with her, was her husband's mistress. "This is a secret in their family," said Yang.
Yang said he first came to Singapore in 2006 for a travel fair, where he met Madam Chung and her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, who died in mid-2007. Madam Chung and Madam Chang met him again when they went to Beijing for a holiday in end-2008. There, Yang got closer to Madam Chung, who asked him to call her daily after her return. He said she later asked him to "accompany" her to Singapore, telling him that she would support him financially.
COMPANION FOR LIFE
I felt very lucky... She asked me to be by her side forever, not to leave her. I agreed.
EX-TOUR GUIDE YANG YIN, who added that Madam Chung Khin said she would support him financially and wanted to leave him everything.
Yang arrived in 2009 after Chinese New Year and was given a hongbao of $5,000. A few days, later he claimed she told him she wanted to leave him everything - and such a will was made the next year.
He claimed he asked her if she was sure and she replied: "You are my grandson. A granny gives her money to her grandson. Is there anything wrong with that?" Last April, the courts recognised a new statutory will that will leave most of Madam Chung's assets to charity.
Madam Chung's friends would visit her about once a month, while her niece would visit her once every few months, Yang said. Madam Chung told him to avoid the visitors because she "did not want others to know about (their) relationship".
In 2013, after Chinese New Year, she told him to bring his wife and two children over to Singapore, and they arrived in August 2013. "Madam Chung was very happy because she had the children to play with. She felt that the home was livelier. It did not seem as boring as when the two of us were alone together," said Yang, who is set to be cross-examined by the prosecution today.
As for the money that is the subject of the criminal breach of trust charges, Yang admitted lying to police about using it to buy paintings for Madam Chung. But that was because she did not want others to know about it, to avoid jealousy and gossip. He said $500,000 was a gift to help with family debts and $600,000 was returned to Madam Chung after she asked for it.