I spend HK$100,000 a month, but I'm no squanderer, says mum

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2008, 12:00am

The 84-year-old mother of Anita Mui maintains she is not a spendthrift, though she has admitted she spends more than HK$100,000 a month including paying two maids and a chauffeur.

Having lost the first round of the legal battle, Tam Mei-kam said she first had to settle a bill of about HK$3 million for the legal team that fought her case in the Court of First Instance before she takes it to the appeal court.

Speaking outside court yesterday, she was asked if she found it wasteful to drain money from her daughter's estate to finance a string of lawsuits. She said: 'Why can't I use the money while they can use [Anita's] money?'

In an interview with the Post earlier, Ms Tam said: 'I am not a spendthrift. I don't spend much on myself.'

Sitting in her 2,000 sq ft flat with an extended 1,000 sq ft podium where she keeps her fish tank and a dog, Ms Tam said she would devote the money she could inherit to charity work.

According to the court records, Ms Tam made various applications to the court to increase her monthly allowance from her daughter's HK$100 million estate pending the outcome of the probate action that was released yesterday.

Most recently she has been getting HK$120,000 a month - almost double the original sum of HK$68,000 set in 2004. But she explained the money was important for her to fight the case, claiming that it cost her about 'HK$80,000 to HK$100,000' only for photocopying.

Under the will, Ms Tam would be paid an allowance of HK$70,000 a month, while most of the money and assets would go to a trust and other beneficiaries such as New Horizon Buddhist Association and the star's fashion designer, Eddie Lau Pui-kei.

'Money is not that important to us,' said Peter Mui Kai-ming, the star's oldest brother, who has been living with his mother and assisting her in making the court claims.

'There was a conspiracy, we believe,' he said. 'How extravagant we are is not their business.'

Ms Tam also said she thought Mui was more generous to her than had been depicted in court by witnesses such as the singer's godmother, Sheila Ho, who told the court Mui set up a trust to provide her mother with a monthly allowance of HK$70,000 so she did not end up penniless after squandering the assets.

'My daughter would have bought me the whole street if I wanted,' said Ms Tam, who insisted she was not motivated by money, but did not think the estate should go into other people's hands.

She said she wanted to make good use of the money from the estate for charity work. When asked whether she would leave all the money she could get from the estate to her son Peter, she said she would only require a 'sufficient' amount to cover her basic living expenses and the remainder would be managed by her son to set up a memorial museum for Mui.