Prominent family split over e-mail libel claims

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 January, 2011, 12:00am

A granddaughter of Khoo Teck Puat, once Singapore's richest person, and her husband are suing her brother, a senior counsel in Hong Kong, for unspecified damages for allegedly libelling them in two e-mails.

Dr Chua Siew Eng, clinical associate professor at the University of Hong Kong's department of psychiatry, and her husband, Dr Choy Khai-meng, filed their claim against Chua Guan-hock SC at the High Court earlier this week.

Dr Chua and the barrister are the daughter and son of Khoo's daughter Khoo Bee See and her husband, Chua Seong Siew, of whose estate Dr Chua is executor and trustee.

They are seeking damages for the alleged libel, an injunction stopping Chua Guan-hock from making defamatory statements that are the same or similar to those he had made, and an order for him to apologise.

The Khoo family was named Forbes' second-richest in Singapore in a list that included families, groups and individuals last year, and Khoo Teck Puat, its richest man in 2004, when he died aged 87.

Khoo was the biggest shareholder in Standard Chartered, with a 13.5 per cent stake.

The two doctors say Chua Guan-hock made defamatory statements in one e-mail sent on December 3 and one on December 4, which were copied to four other people: Dr Chua Choo Eng, Lucy Khoo, Then Bee Lian and G.K. Goh. The contents of the e-mails cannot be reprinted for legal reasons.

They called the statements that Chua Guan-hock made 'seriously defamatory', and said their reputations had been 'gravely injured'. They have also suffered severe distress and embarrassment, the filing says.

Dr Chua is an honorary consultant at Queen Mary Hospital, and Choy a chief manager of service transformation at the Hospital Authority and consultant on public-private partnerships at the Food and Health Bureau, the filing says.

Chua Guan-hock has served on subcommittees of the Bar Council. He was conferred the title of senior barrister in May 2003.