Writs by mum, son tell tale of love betrayed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am

When reporters knocked on the door of her home early this month, it was the first time Yip Fu-lin, 84, learned that she was being sued by her son.

And it wasn't the first unhappy surprise the mother had received after the once-harmonious relationship with her son deteriorated into acrimony in recent years.

According to documents filed in court by Yip, she found Lo Yiu-wah had been claiming a HK$30,000-a-month support payment to her as rent on the family company Wing Cheong's warehouse only when she received a tax demand in 2002.

And, Yip claims, she discovered only after a row with Lo over her refusal to sell him a property for HK$2.5 million that he had been offered HK$6 million for it.

That row brought matters to a head, and last month she sealed off the warehouse at Shing Mun where Lo operated the family scrap metal and cotton trading business. She had signed it over to the man she saw as a 'faithful and reliable son' in 2002.

The story came to light in the Court of First Instance, where Lo is accusing Yip of unreasonably shutting the warehouse and demanding that she remove barriers she placed at the entrance to deny him access.

That case has yet to be heard, but Lo yesterday obtained an interim order from Mr Justice Aarif Barma that he be given access to the warehouse. Barma also ordered that Yip should not destroy the contents of the warehouse and that Lo should remove only items he needed to do business.

In her document filed in court earlier, Yip said she owned the 7,000 sq ft site where the warehouse was erected, where she had lived since 1978. She recalled how she and her late husband, both illiterate, had founded the business in 1954 after she came from the mainland to live with him in a squatter hut. They raised eight children there, one of whom died in a fire. Until the 1990s, Lo had been very nice to her, she said. 'At one time, he even told me he would feed me and the entire family, and treat me well even if he had to beg on the streets. I was deeply impressed,' she said.

In 1996, when he suggested she buy a HK$1.9 million property at Luk Yeung Sun Tsuen, Tsuen Wan, to live with her grandson, she agreed to make a HK$900,000 down payment and for the company to pay the mortgage. 'In fact, after my first visit to the property, I never had a chance to visit the property again,' she said. Lo sold it this year for HK$1.95 million without compensating her, she said.

Lo had earlier agreed to pay her a HK$30,000-a-month support allowance but, after she handed him the business in 2002, he claimed it as rent in company tax returns, which brought the Inland Revenue Department after her, she said. She eventually settled by paying HK$150,000.

'I never knew I was renting [the land] to him. That is the place where I lived and still live. I do not see a reason why I would need to collect rent from my own business,' she said.

She had been 'greatly saddened' in August this year when Lo repeatedly demanded she sell the land to him, offering up to HK$2.5 million when, according to her, he had been offered HK$6 million.

Upset by her refusal, Lo came to see her on September 11 and shouted at her rudely. 'I had had enough of him and added locks to the gate of the land to refuse him entry,' she said.

In his claim, Lo alleged his mother had unreasonably demanded a 50 per cent rent increase to HK$45,000 but Yip insisted she had not done so.

She said Wing Cheong, which they set up in 1958, was operated on a remote site in Pak Tin Pui until 1966 when the government redeveloped the land and paid HK$15,000 for resettlement. They bought the Shing Mun Road land with that money together with her savings, and loans.