A court had ruled earlier that he is rightful owner
A 25-YEAR-OLD who successfully took his paternal grandmother to court over ownership of a three-room flat in Bedok Reservoir is now suing her for contempt of court.
Mr Garry Chee had taken 87-year-old Madam Foo Eng Ngoh to court nearly a year ago.
At issue: Who owns the flat.
Mr Chee said he was the sole heir, and had inherited the home from his late father.
But Madam Foo claimed it was part of the joint matrimonial property in which she had a share, despite her not being named.
The court ruled that Mr Chee was the rightful owner. But Madam Foo dug in and refused to hand over the keys and title deed when her grandson sought to claim what was rightfully his.
Now, Mr Chee, who wants to sell the flat to realise his dream of studying in Australia, has again turned to the law: He wants a court to rule that his grandmother is in contempt of its earlier order.
Last Friday, High Court Justice Andrew Ang, recognising the seriousness of the contempt-of-court charge and the sensitivity of frayed family ties, called for an adjournment. That would give the lawyers for both sides time to look for alternative answers.
The flat had been in the sole name of the young man's father, Mr Chee Han Meng.
In 1990, he divorced his wife Alice Lin, when their son Garry was only six.
Madam Lin moved out of the flat and brought up her son elsewhere.
In the meantime, the elder Mr Chee lived in the flat with his mother, Madam Foo.
In April 2006, the elder Mr Chee died of cancer at the age of 49 and the flat passed to his son under the law.
But Madam Foo disputed this, and both parties wound up in court.
The woman claimed that the flat, which had been bought by her husband, was held by her son in trust for her benefit.
She said she was left only with the flat and about $900 in CPF money when her husband died.
But Mr Garry Chee claimed that the flat was part of his late father's estate due to him as the only son.
His submissions through lawyer Wong Shyen Sook said he filed the case with great reluctance and sadness, but that he had come to a crossroads in his life in desperate need of funds.
He noted that the $53,000 in insurance money left him by his father had been claimed by his aunt, on the grounds that she looked after his father during his illness.
The court ruled in Mr Chee's favour last July after the submissions from both parties.
Contacted yesterday, both sides showed they had some way to go over the matter.
One of Mr Chee's aunts, Madam Doris Chee, choked with emotion when she recalled looking after her brother and at the thought of her mother losing the flat.
'We tried settling ourselves and it did not work so we are leaving it to our lawyer Mustaffa Bakar,' she said.
Madam Lin said she had a duty to her son as a mother and spoke of the three-year struggle to get the matter settled.
'If you look at this quarrel between a young man and old lady, where do you think people's sympathies will lie?
'But that will be only looking at the surface. You have to look underneath and see the details.'
Source: Straits Times, 2 June 2009