Singapore

Widow, 89, takes three sons to court

She and another son claim she co-owns three shophouses and is entitled to $200,000 given by husband to make up for his infidelity

An 89-year-old widow and her son are suing three of his brothers in a fight over property and a sum of $200,000, which she said her husband had paid her to make amends for his infidelity and abusive behaviour.

Madam Tan Lwee contends that even though she was named as the co-owner of three HDB shophouses in Teck Whye, Serangoon and Jurong, she has never received any rental income from the properties.

The illiterate housewife, who has eight children, also claims that she has not been able to use a single cent of the $200,000 "reparation sum" because her youngest son has blocked her access to the funds.

The money, deposited in a bank account held by herself, fourth son Lim Chin Hwa, 55, and youngest son Chin Sin, 47, can be withdrawn only if all three agree.

In her suit, which began in the High Court yesterday, Madam Tan is seeking her share of the rental income, the return of the $200,000 and a court order for the three properties to be sold.

The case pits Madam Tan against her eldest son Chin Keng, in his 60s, second son Chin Hong, 59, and Chin Sin.

The three defendants argue that their father, egg farmer Lim Yoke Swee, never intended to give her any share in the properties and included her name only "for convenience".

They agree the $200,000 was to be used for her living expenses but deny it was intended to make reparations.

Mr Lim Chin Sin contends that his father had mandated that the money cannot be withdrawn unless the three defendants see her regularly.

They claim they were denied access to their mother by Mr Lim Chin Hwa. They say they believe he wanted her to live with him to "exert influence" on her over the $200,000.

Yesterday, the defendants' lawyer, Mr Thomas Toh, put to Mr Lim Chin Hwa on the stand that he was eyeing a "large chunk" of his father's estate.

Mr Toh noted he was the sole beneficiary of his mother's will.

The lawyer contended that Mr Lim Chin Hwa was not happy that his father had willed him only $200 and had joined in the suit for the "ulterior purpose" of getting more money.

He disagreed.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Mr Alywin Goh, said 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 her matrimonial flat in Bukit Panjang to live with Mr Lim Chin Hwa.

In 2010, she started divorce proceedings but dropped the case after the $200,000 offer. Mr Goh said Madam Tan has had to endure "hard times".

Fifth son Chin Lam took her from Mr Lim Chin Hwa's home but allegedly chased her out after two weeks.

Third son Chin Teck then put her in an old folks' home and applied to the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents to compel his siblings to pay for her upkeep.

Madam Tan moved back with Mr Lim Chin Hwa in February 2011. Not long after, the maintenance order granted by the tribunal was rescinded on Mr Lim Chin Sin's application.

After the patriarch died in May 2014, Mr Lim Chin Keng and Mr Lim Chin Hong put an additional padlock on the gate to the matrimonial flat.

The plaintiffs say this was to keep Madam Tan out of her own home, but the defendants say this was to stop Mr Lim Chin Hwa from taking their father's belongings.

The trial continues.

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