$1 million condo still vacant after 9 years
Claimant did not support or care for her deceased sister, who owned the unit, says Public Trustee's Office
For seven years, no one came forward to claim a $1 million condominium unit which was vacant since its owner died in 2009.
It was not known if the late owner, Ms Tang Yook Chan, who died of cancer at Assisi Home & Hospice at 55, had relatives.
Finally in 2016, her elder sister, Madam Tang Ah Nooi, 82, submitted a claim on the estate to the Public Trustee's Office (PTO). But the unit is still empty today, as Madam Tang's claim was rejected by the PTO.
In a phone interview, Madam Tang told The New Paper she first found out about the unit after the PTO contacted her niece in August 2016.
Before that, Madam Tang did not know that Ms Tang was dead as they lost contact in 1992. The sisters have no blood ties as they were both adopted.
Madam Tang said: "After my mum died, my sister stopped coming to my house. I couldn't locate her as I didn't know her contact number or her friends."
Madam Tang added that she did not see any news reports on the unit.
The 1,173 sq ft unit, which is considered "bona vacantia" was first reported on in TNP in 2014.
An estate is treated as bona vacantia - which means "goods without an apparent owner" - if a person dies without leaving a will and without any surviving entitled next-of-kin.
The unit was left untouched until July 2016, when three officers from the PTO went in to search for Ms Tang's identification documents, said Mr Glen Ong, Chuan Park's condominium manager.
The deceased's Malaysian birth certificate was found and the PTO placed an advertisement in the Malaysian newspapers calling for her biological relatives to come forward.
Madam Tang's claim was considered after the ad's two-month notice period expired.
On November 2017, she was notified that her claim was rejected.
Since Madam Tang is not related by blood to the deceased, she made a moral and equitable claim under section 27 of the Civil Law Act.
A spokesman for PTO confirmed this and said it looks at the "totality of evidence of the relationship between the deceased and the claimant" in assessing such claims.
"This includes evidence of continuing close ties with the deceased such as financial support to the deceased, particularly in the period before death, care and support provided by the claimant throughout the life of the deceased and the deceased's last wishes."
He added that Madam Tang had not provided financial support or care to Ms Tang before she died.
The unit will be vested to the State under the Civil Law Act. It will be sold in a public auction and the proceeds will be held by government. As there is no time limit for the submission of a moral and equitable claim to the PTO, if such a claim should be made after the sale of the unit and is successful, proceeds will be paid to the claimant.
Madam Tang said: "I am disappointed that I didn't get the house after spending thousands to hire a lawyer. If I had known my sister was sick then, I would never have let her die alone."