Sunday 28 September 2014

Office of Public Guardian lodged report against ex-China tour guide

By Toh Yong Chuan And Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

THE Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has revealed it lodged a report against former China tour guide Yang Yin after it emerged he had boasted about his wealth and lavish lifestyle online.

The 40-year-old had posted on Chinese social networking site Weibo: "Let my cash vault grow towards $50 million."

This was in September 2012, two months after he obtained a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) from Madam Chung Khin Chun, giving him control of the 87-year-old widow's assets, estimated to be worth $40 million.

"We reported this to the Commercial Affairs Department, highlighting our concern of possible financial abuse," said state-appointed Public Guardian Daniel Koh yesterday.

The OPG report was made on Wednesday last week, and on the same day Mr Yang was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust. He has also been accused by Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, 60, of manipulating her aunt into making him her guardian. On Tuesday, Madam Chung applied to revoke the LPA.

The OPG yesterday said it was reviewing the application, but would not be drawn into saying when a decision would be made.

An LPA is a legal document that allows a person to appoint another to make key decisions should he lose the mental ability to do so. Anyone who is at least 21 years old can sign one.

Mr Koh assured the public that there are enough safeguards to prevent abuse of the LPA scheme. Not only do LPAs have to be certified by experts - such as a doctor or a lawyer - and approved by the OPG, but the body also has the powers to investigate complaints of abuse.

Last week, two OPG board members also visited Madam Chung, who is now living with her niece. "We found that her well-being was OK, she was comfortable in the environment, so we left her there," Mr Koh said.

But he also made it plain that the onus was on LPA applicants to make sure they pick a trustworthy guardian - it is not the OPG's responsibility to judge "the quality" of the decision.

Since the scheme was launched four years ago, "most people are using the LPA without a lot of fuss", said Mr Koh, adding that Madam Chung's case was "probably the only case" of alleged abuse.

Around 6,500 people have signed up for the scheme.

Meanwhile, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has made it clear that foreigners do not get extra points for volunteering in grassroots associations when it comes to applying for permanent residency or citizenship.

Mr Yang, who moved into Madam Chung's $30 million Gerald Crescent bungalow in 2009, was a member of the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee from July 5 last year to Sept 8 this year.

Pictures of him at grassroots activities have surfaced online.

"Volunteering in community service such as in People's Association grassroots organisations... has not been part of ICA's criteria when assessing Singapore citizenship or permanent resident (PR) applications," a spokesman said. The ICA is still probing Mr Yang's PR status.

* Ex-tour guide gets nothing as court lets widow change will
By Carolyn Khew And Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 7 Apr 2015

HE ONCE stood to inherit $40 million. Now, Chinese national Yang Yin will get nothing.

In a major victory for elderly widow Chung Khin Chun, her old will that left her assets to him has been thrown out.

Instead, her latest will, where her fortune goes to charity, was recognised by the courts yesterday.

"Yang Yin gets nothing, charities get almost everything," Madam Chung's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam told reporters after a closed-door hearing at the Family Justice Court yesterday.

The new will replaces one made in 2010, where Madam Chung's assets - estimated to be worth $40 million - were to go to the former tour guide.

BREAKING: Former China tour guide Yang Yin struck off from wealthy widow's new will. will now leaves most of her assets to charity.
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, April 5, 2015

The 88-year-old retired physiotherapist has no children. Her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, died in 2007.

She met Yang, who is 47 years her junior, when he was her private tour guide in 2008. A year later, he moved into her Gerald Crescent bungalow with her, and was given the right to manage her assets and welfare under the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) that she supposedly gave him in 2011.

The LPA was revoked after a court hearing in November.

It was a key factor affecting yesterday's decision, said Mr Peter Doraisamy, the lawyer for Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, who began legal action against Yang last year.

He said that the court had considered Madam Chung's intentions in an earlier 1989 will and the draft of a 2009 will in which she had left her assets to charity.

Her friends and family members had also testified that Yang put "undue influence" on her when she drew up the 2010 will leaving him her fortune, he added.

The new will, which was made last December, had to be recognised by the court because Madam Chung was diagnosed with dementia last year.

Both lawyers have waived their legal fees related to the new will, since Madam Chung is leaving her estate to charity.

Madam Mok, 61, who runs a travel agency, has also accused Yang of manipulating her aunt to seize control of her assets, and is suing him and his family in the High Court to recover money that they allegedly siphoned away.

Yang, 41, has been in remand since Oct 31 last year. He faces more than 300 charges in total, including two criminal breach of trust charges for allegedly misappropriating $1.1 million from the wealthy widow.

Asked if she was happy about the outcome, a beaming Madam Chung simply said: "Yes!"

Said Madam Mok: "Now we can proceed to set up a trust, sell her house and get her a new home."

Yang's lawyers are meeting him to discuss the court ruling and he has two weeks to appeal.

* Ex-tour guide's legal powers over widow's assets revoked
By Hoe Pei Shan, The Straits Times, 26 Nov 2014

FORMER China tour guide Yang Yin, accused of manipulating a wealthy widow into making himself her guardian for his personal gain, no longer has any say over her welfare and finances.

Yesterday, Madam Chung Khin Chun, 87, succeeded in revoking the order she made in 2012, when Yang was living with her.

The order, called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), gave him control of her assets, worth around $40 million, in case she loses her mental capacity to manage her affairs.

The revocation was confirmed by a spokesman for the Office of the Public Guardian, a day after the Family Court decided that Madam Chung, despite being diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, had the mental capacity to cancel the LPA.

The saga, which has generated a lot of public interest since news of it broke early in September, is far from over.

Yang is facing 331 charges of faking receipts at his music and dance studio. The receipts allegedly made it seem that his firm, through which he eventually obtained permanent residency, was a viable business.

Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, is also suing the 40-year-old Yang for abusing his responsibilities under the LPA.

But she is relieved that at least this battle has been won. "I'm happy to hear that the LPA aspect is over," the 60-year-old tour agency owner told The Straits Times.

She and her lawyers are currently trying to get her appointed as her aunt's deputy, which would allow her to make decisions on behalf of Madam Chung, under the Mental Capacity Act.

"Someone will have to take care of my aunt's affairs as she ages. She's got only two family members here - her sister and me," said Madam Mok.

"I'm fighting to help her preserve her assets and take care of all her personal matters. She doesn't want any outsider to do that."

Yang moved into Madam Chung's $30 million home in Gerald Crescent in 2009, a year after acting as her tour guide during a Beijing trip.

In 2010, she changed her will to appoint him sole executor and beneficiary of her estate on her death. Two years later, she applied for the LPA.

In September, Madam Mok evicted Yang, his wife and two young children from the bungalow and launched a series of legal actions against him.

* Ex-tour guide charged with faking his firm's accounts
By Carolyn Khew And Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 1 Nov 2014

THE former China tour guide accused of manipulating a wealthy 87-year-old widow into giving him control of her assets was yesterday charged with faking his firm's accounts.

Yang Yin, 40, will be kept in remand for five days to assist the police, and to ensure that he does not flee the country.

He faces 11 charges of falsifying receipts worth $28,000 in total - purportedly paid to Young Music and Dance Studio, of which he was a director. These were mainly for music services, such as piano tuition.

But it is alleged that these payments were never made, raising the possibility that he was running a sham company.

It was through this firm that Yang obtained an Employment Pass in 2009, which let him stay here with Singaporean widow Chung Khin Chun in her $30 million bungalow in Gerald Crescent. Two years later, he became a permanent resident.

Yang, who was brought to court in handcuffs, wore a brown T-shirt with the words "Survivor Singapore" printed on it. The charges were read out to him in Mandarin by an interpreter.

If convicted, he faces 10 years in jail, a fine, or both.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Feng Qian said more than 300 receipts from his firm have yet to be accounted for. She said Yang, whose passport was impounded, was a flight risk since, among other reasons, he has no family here.

He is also being separately probed by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Manpower Ministry. An ICA spokesman told The Straits Times: "Any permanent resident convicted of an offence will have his or her PR status reviewed."

The saga gained widespread attention in September when Madam Chung's niece Hedy Mok evicted Yang's wife and two children from the bungalow. Yang was overseas at the time.

It was then revealed that he met Madam Chung when he worked as her personal tour guide for a 2008 trip to Beijing.

In 2012, Madam Chung, who was diagnosed with dementia this year, made Yang responsible for her affairs and assets, believed to be worth $40 million, under the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) scheme.

After Madam Mok, a 60-year-old tour agency owner, found out about the LPA early this year, she took her aunt out of the bungalow and began legal proceedings to revoke Yang's guardianship and to sue him for allegedly breaching his duties.

In September, Madam Chung also applied to cancel the LPA. In two weeks' time, a court is scheduled to hear whether she has the mental capacity to do this.

Yang was arrested on Sept 17 for suspected criminal breach of trust - the same day the Office of the Public Guardian, which runs the LPA scheme, made a police report alleging that he may have abused his position as Madam Chung's guardian.

OPG applies to suspend powers of niece, tour guide
By Carolyn Khew And Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 30 Sep 2014

THE Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has called a truce to the tussle between the niece of a rich widow and a former China tour guide over control of the widow's assets.

In an unexpected twist, the office applied to the courts yesterday to temporarily suspend the powers of Madam Hedy Mok, niece of 87-year-old Madam Chung Khin Chun, and Mr Yang Yin.

If approved, neither can represent the widow. This would allow her to be independently assessed by a medical expert to be appointed by the court.

The check will determine if she has the mental capacity to revoke the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) she gave to Mr Yang in 2012, which, in effect, allowed him to control her assets estimated to be worth $40 million.

The wealthy widow, who has no children and was diagnosed with dementia this year, met the 40-year-old Mr Yang in 2008 while on a holiday in Beijing.

Mr Yang, a Singapore permanent resident, is embroiled in a legal tussle with Madam Chung's niece over the widow's assets, which include her $30 million Gerald Crescent bungalow.

Madam Mok, 60, who owns a travel agency, was appointed by the court on Aug 1 as her aunt's deputy for the purposes of commencing legal proceedings on behalf of Madam Chung under the Mental Capacity Act.

Explaining the latest move, an OPG spokesman told The Straits Times that the "actions are necessary to safeguard and protect the interests and assets of Madam Chung".

"The OPG will decide on the cancellation of the LPA after the court has made a determination on Madam Chung's mental capacity."

The spokesman added that the Public Guardian must be satisfied that the necessary revocation steps have been taken, before the LPA can be cancelled.

The OPG's court application was made yesterday and the lawyers representing both Madam Mok and Mr Yang were informed at about 5.30pm.

The application will be heard at the State Courts on Friday.

When contacted, Madam Mok's lawyer, Mr Peter Doraisamy from Selvam LLC, would not comment, saying they had just received the application and were assessing it.

In a press statement, Mr Yang's lawyer, Mr Daniel Zhu of Straits Law Practice, said his client "welcomes and supports" the application of the OPG.

Earlier last week, the OPG said it had lodged a report with the Commercial Affairs Department against Mr Yang after it emerged he had boasted about his wealthy and lavish lifestyle online.

The report was made on Sept 17, the same day that Mr Yang was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust.

The wealthy widow asked the OPG last week to cancel the LPA she had given Mr Yang.

The move came after a psychiatrist who examined her said she had the mental capacity to revoke the LPA, despite suffering from dementia.

Lasting Power of Attorney: How it works


The donor appoints the donee by completing a form, which is certified by a lawyer, psychiatrist or doctor. The donor then registers it with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).


The donee takes over affairs when the donor loses mental capacity. The OPG can check on the donor's welfare.


Third parties can check the validity of the form or ask for a medical report. Anyone can blow the whistle on possible wrongdoing and the OPG will investigate.

Widow in tussle over assets breaks her silence
She says she hopes dispute over her $40m assets can be resolved soon
By Carolyn Khew And Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2014

MADAM Chung Khin Chun, the wealthy widow at the heart of the saga involving a former China tour guide, has finally broken her silence.

The 87-year-old told The Straits Times yesterday that she now wants back full control of her assets worth an estimated $40 million.

This was why she applied to the Office of the Public Guardian to revoke the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) she gave Mr Yang Yin in 2012.

Her lawyer announced this development at a press conference on Tuesday.

Madam Chung, whose husband, Dr Chou Sip King, died in 2007, has no children.

The saga has generated considerable public interest since it was first reported on Sept 3. The day before, her niece Hedy Mok forced Mr Yang's wife and two children out of her aunt's sprawling $30 million bungalow in Gerald Crescent, where they had been living for the last year.

Mr Yang, who was overseas at the time, had moved in with Madam Chung in 2009, a year after acting as her private tour guide during a holiday in China.

Since then, it has been revealed that Ms Mok has started court proceedings to strip Mr Yang of the 2012 LPA, after accusing him of manipulating her aunt.

She is also suing him for breaching his duty as a guardian under the LPA.

When Madam Chung was asked about her relationship with Mr Yang yesterday, she said she could not remember much of what happened before.

It is believed that in 2010, she willed her assets to the man.

She was diagnosed with dementia this year, but a psychiatric assessment last week found that she has the mental capacity to revoke the LPA.

These days, Madam Chung, a retired physiotherapist who ran her own clinic at People's Park, wakes up at 5am and then reads the papers.

She admitted to being dismayed at seeing all the reports on her case. "I don't like it."

She also said she misses her Gerald Crescent bungalow, where she had been living since the 1960s - especially the large garden and the swimming pool where she used to swim every day.

She hoped the issues would be resolved - "the sooner, the better".

Meanwhile, Mr Yang, who last week was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust, has told Chinese evening daily Shin Min Daily News that he will release a public statement soon.

MP says she does not know Yang personally
By Carolyn Khewand Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2014

MEMBER of Parliament Intan Azura Mokhtar said yesterday that she did write a letter of appeal regarding Mr Yang Yin's application for permanent residency (PR) here. But she did so only at the behest of Madam Chung Khin Chun.

Questions had been raised over the former China tour guide's role in the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee, after pictures of him at various grassroots activities surfaced online. The People's Association confirmed that he had been a member of the neighbourhood committee since July 5 last year but resigned on Sept 8 this year.

Dr Intan, who is an MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC and adviser to the committee, said she did not know Mr Yang personally. She recalls meeting him only when he was participating in a cooking activity.

She does remember the time Madam Chung approached her.

"She first came to see me and sought my help in May 2011... for her grandson," said Dr Intan. "This is what she told me and I referred Madam Chung's request to the authorities." She said she responded only because Madam Chung was "a resident of my constituency and a Singaporean".

"If Mr Yang had come to me, I wouldn't be able to help him because he's not a Singaporean," she said. "What I would have told him is that you probably can apply for PR to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority directly."

Dr Intan also said she later received a piece of "feedback" on Mr Yang. She did not reveal the nature of the feedback as there are ongoing court proceedings concerning Mr Yang, but said it was forwarded to the authorities the same day.

Dr Intan also explained why she had initially referred to Mr Yang as a grassroots "leader", when asked about him two weeks ago. She said she considers all grassroots volunteers "grassroots leaders", reiterating that Mr Yang "did not hold a key position... he was just an ordinary member".

In recent days, Dr Intan's Facebook page has been inundated with questions about Mr Yang. Some claimed that she had gone into "Internet hiding" by not addressing the questions and making her Facebook page private.

When asked if comments about Mr Yang had been deleted from her Facebook page, she said the staff administering the site may have done so and she does not know what "Internet hiding" is.

Dr Intan also made it clear that only citizens and PRs can join the grassroots, although others can help out as ad-hoc volunteers. When asked if taking part in these ad-hoc activities can help in an application for permanent residency, she said that was up to the immigration authorities.

When contacted last night, Madam Chung said she remembered seeing Dr Intan "a few years ago", but could not recall what was discussed.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the ICA made it clear that volunteering in grassroots organisations is not part of its criteria when assessing applications for PR and citizenship.

It said: “Applications for Singapore Permanent Residence or Singapore Citizenship (SC) are evaluated on a range of factors including family ties, qualifications, income and length of stay in Singapore. While volunteering in community service such as with PA grassroots organisations had been suggested as a possible criterion, it has not been part of ICA’s criteria when assessing SC or SPR applications. Each application will be assessed on its own merits."

The ICA also added: "Individuals who provide false information in their applications for immigration facilities will be dealt with firmly under the law. In addition, they will have their immigration facilities cancelled or revoked.”

Don't wait till you lose your mind
Decide who and how you want to manage your life with a Lasting Power of Attorney
By Rachael Boon, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Getting the LPA is key for breadwinners

A high-profile tussle for control over a widow's $40 million assets has thrust the issue of having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) into the spotlight.

The LPA is a legal instrument that allows you to appoint another person to act on your behalf if you lose your mental capacity.

Earlier this month, it emerged that retired physiotherapist Madam Chung Khin Chun had given former China tour guide Yang Yin the LPA in 2012.

This gave him full control over her assets, including a $30 million bungalow in Gerald Crescent.

In a recent turn of events, the widow, who was diagnosed with dementia this year, said that she was revoking the LPA after a new psychiatric assessment found that she has the mental capacity to do so.

About 6,500 people have made an LPA. The registry is maintained by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

Experts told The Sunday Times the LPA is important for the average family which may be dependent on a sole breadwinner.

But don't wait till you are older to consider applying for it, they warn.

When did the LPA become an option?

The LPA was introduced under the Mental Capacity Act, a major piece of social legislation enacted in 2010.

The OPG was set up to support the Act's operations.

As a legal instrument aimed at protecting your interests, the LPA kicks in once you lose mental capacity.

This is unlike a will, which comes into effect only after you die.

Mr Gerard Ee, a member of the Public Guardian Board, says: "The LPA is a very important development. Most people may be familiar with the will, but they don't realise that the will is triggered only upon death.

"Now with a longer life expectancy, we're living longer but there's no guarantee that we can maintain full control over our mental faculty."

Anyone who is at least 21 can sign the LPA, which will be revoked upon death at which point a will, if one has been made, will take effect.

The donee, or proxy decision-maker, that you appoint can decide on your personal welfare matters, including where you should live and day-to-day care decisions, and what is known as property and affairs matters, such as those concerning insurance.

For instance, Mr Ee notes, if you lose mental capacity one day, you will find your bank accounts frozen.

The LPA can allow the donee to decide to access your funds for payments on your behalf.

Note that you must not be an undischarged bankrupt if you want to make an LPA for matters relating to property and financial affairs.

The OPG can investigate cases where the donee did not act in the best interests of the applicant.

There are two types of LPAs which require different forms.

The standard LPA is made using the basic form. It has a $50 registration fee, but this has been waived for two years since Sept 1.

The standard LPA gives the donee general powers and is the choice of more than 97 per cent of applicants.

Making an LPA that grants customised powers will cost $200.

This should be drafted by a lawyer to help you indicate specific wishes.

Senior partner Mabel Tan at law firm Joseph Tan Jude Benny (JTJB) says: "With the LPA, does that mean you give the donee the power to do anything and everything?

"No. Under the Act, there are certain consents that your donee cannot make for you."

These include the consent to divorce or adopt, for instance.

All LPA applications have to be witnessed and certified by a practising lawyer, a registered psychiatrist or medical practitioner accredited by the Public Guardian. The list is available on the OPG website.

You can also appoint more than one donee, but this may complicate matters if the donees cannot agree on certain decisions.

The LPA forms were revised from Sept 1.

They now use less legal and technical jargon, information has been streamlined and rarely used provisions were removed from the forms.

However, Ms Tan notes: "In the old form, there was a column, which was optional, for you to fill in a name of a person you can notify to say that you have an LPA and who the donee is."

She feels that option is still important as it is an additional form of security.

Once you have completed the forms, you need to submit an application to register your LPA with the OPG.

You may also submit the forms via post, and SingPost is providing free postal service for two years.

To enjoy the free postal service, you must download the Business Reply Service mailing label to print and affix to a C4-size envelope for the documents. There are also Business Reply Service envelopes at Alzheimer's Disease Association centres, social service offices and community centres and clubs.

Why make the LPA

Mr Ee says: "While one tends to think of it as related to old age, the reality is that you can lose mental capacity in any possible incident at any age, through an accident, illness, extreme high fever that affects the brain or (even) a very bad fall that damages the brain.

"The LPA is for people of all ages and especially for those who know there are people dependent upon them as the sole breadwinner."

He also adds that it is useful for those who don't have dependants and expect to live longer.

"The LPA fulfils this inner desire that you will be looked after in a certain manner by giving instructions to your nominee.

"Sometimes, it could be things like 'I don't want to be placed in an old folks' home'," says Mr Ee, adding that with the LPA, you are in control of your life even if you lose your mental capacity.

Dr Gopalan Raman, senior consultant at law firm KhattarWong, notes: "It is good to have an LPA signed especially if one does not have a spouse or children."

Even if one is married with children, it is advisable to make an LPA, he adds.

"If a person cannot communicate with lawyers, doctors or other caregivers, a donee may make decisions on his behalf.

"This becomes particularly relevant when people who live by themselves have to have their affairs managed."

For instance, he says that if a person wants to withdraw some money from the ATM but cannot recall his pin number or how much he wants to withdraw, a donee could help out.

Rajah & Tann partner Rebecca Chew says with an LPA that is properly registered, you avoid the situation where you have to apply to the court for deputies to be appointed to make decisions for the mentally disordered person.

She notes: "You get to choose who you would like to make decisions on your behalf, when you no longer have capacity to do so. When you lose capacity and there is no LPA, that decision is, in a sense, taken out of your control.

"In a situation where you have to go to court, there will be a lag time and that can be a couple of months."

Council for Third Age chief executive Soh Swee Ping also notes: "Much as the LPA is important, careful consideration and selection of the donee would be critical."

JTJB will conduct a free seminar on will writing and the LPA on Tuesday from 3.30pm to 5pm at its office at OUE Downtown 2 at 6 Shenton Way. If you have inquiries, call 6220-9388.

Ms Tan cites an example of a man whose wife had serious bleeding during childbirth and ended up in a coma.

"They were not very well-to-do, but she had savings. If they had done the LPA, the husband would have been able to give her better health care with her savings. He was struggling then."

Mr Ee stresses that the LPA is especially important for those who know their family is dependent upon them as a provider.

"Just imagine a family where everyone is financially independent. If the patriarch loses mental capacity, it's not disastrous.

"But in a family where the family income is not very high and the family depends on the breadwinner, then in my mind it becomes very critical that he or she has the LPA."

There is a misconception that this is an instrument only for the rich, but Mr Ee notes that "the poorer you are, the more important it is".

It's really about caring for your family who may be dependent on you, he adds.


No comments:

Post a Comment