Siblings suing the companion of once famous psychiatrist
27 Jun 2011
The Straits Times
By K. C. Vijayan
A trial – over ownership of a Chancery Hill Road house worth more than $7 million – starts today.
It will pit two sons of once prominent psychiatrist Wong Yip Cheong against his long-time mistress. Dr Wong, 81, now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Madam Ling Ai Wah, 60, who lived with Dr Wong for 36 years and bore him a son, stands to own the property upon his death after he signed a document in 2004 making her joint owner.
But his sons Meng Cheong, 54, a neurologist, and Meng Leong, 49, a general practitioner, want the High Court to declare the document void.
In his heyday, Dr Wong testified in several seminal court cases as an expert witness, including in the murder trial of Freddy Tan in 1968 which led to the abolition of the jury system.
He also founded and built Adam Road Hospital and served in several organisations, including the Singapore Chess Federation, Singapore Medical Association and Medico-Legal Society.
The plaintiffs are suing as members of the Committee of Persons of the Person and Estate of Dr Wong. They were appointed by the court in 2005 under the Mental Health Act.
Such a move is made to manage the assets of a person who is mentally incompetent.
A third person in the committee, Mr Wong Meng Weng, 35, who is the plaintiffs’ half-brother and Madam Ling’s son, refused to accede to the suit and was named as second defendant.
The plaintiffs claim Dr Wong did not know what he was doing when he signed the transfer deed in 2004 and allege he was unduly influenced by Madam Ling, according to court documents filed.
They want the court to declare the transfer document void or, alternatively, convert the ownership into a shared tenancy between Dr Wong and Madam Ling and have the property sold to enable each to get a share. Represented by Senior Counsel Andre Maniam of WongPartnership, they want the sales proceeds to be used to help in the maintenance and upkeep of Dr Wong.
Madam Ling, defended by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull and lawyers from Drew & Napier, is denying the claims, pointing out that Dr Wong had gifted a Whitley Road bungalow to her in 1976, about a year after their son was born and some three years into their relationship.
The bungalow was sold in 1981 and the proceeds were used to buy the Chancery Hill Road house in 1981. The house was placed in her name initially and it was where they lived with their son.
Dr Wong had, at the time, maintained a home in Goldhill Avenue for his wife, Madam Tan Kim Yam, and their four children.
He started a relationship with Madam Ling some years after she started working for him at his clinic in 1969. They lived in the Chancery house with their son until February last year when Dr Wong was taken away by his son Meng Cheong to live with him.
She claimed that Dr Wong would often visit the Goldhill house during their cohabitation years to ensure his wife, whom he married in 1955, and children were well taken care of.
Madam Ling and her son continue to live in Chancery Hill.
She said any Alzheimer’s disease which Dr Wong may have been suffering from 2002 was mild and did not affect his mental capacity to conduct his affairs. He continued to practise actively at Adam Road Hospital the following year and even took part in a TV interview on the Sars outbreak in 2003, among other things.
She is counter-claiming for a declaration that she is the beneficial owner of the Chancery Hill Road property as well as a condo unit at Draycott Towers, which the plaintiffs had wanted to be sold.
Her son, in his defence statement submitted through lawyer Daniel Koh of Eldan Law, said his father was able to manage his daily activities without assistance till late 2008 and had the mental capacity to sign the transfer document in 2004.
The hearing is set for 12 days before Justice Lai Siu Chiu.
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