Yung Kee's matriarch objected to selling the firm
The mother at the centre of a family feud behind Yung Kee roast goose restaurant held back tears in court yesterday to testify for one son against another.
Mak Siu-chun, 81, told the Court of First Instance that she strongly objected to selling Yung Kee, an idea that her younger son, Ronald Kam Kwan-lai, suggested to her in 2005 after her husband's death the year before.
'He said it was old and could be sold at a good market price,' Mak said. But the restaurant signified her husband's work, so she rejected the idea. Mak also felt Yung Kee was generating steady income and found no need to sell it.
She took the stand as a witness for her elder son Kinsen Kam Kwan-sing, 64, who has petitioned to wind up the company after Ronald allegedly misused its assets and drastically changed the firm's structure.
After giving her evidence, Mak said that it was painful to testify against others in the family. 'My husband would have wanted the elder son to inherit the restaurant; he was devoted to it,' she said.
The court heard earlier that Kinsen helped out in the family business at the request of his father soon after he completed secondary education in the 1960s.
Ronald, who kept his distance from his brother and mother yesterday, also gave evidence. He is accused of planning to push his elder brother out of the family firm.
A few months after taking legal advice without Kinsen's knowledge, he prepared a resolution to demand that no full quorum, or a minimum number of shareholders, was needed in company meetings and that a majority shareholding presence would suffice.
He announced it just before Kinsen's birthday - 'as a birthday present', said Jat Sew-tong SC, for Kinsen. 'Absolutely not,' Ronald retorted. 'I don't remember his birthday.'
Ronald maintained that his brother 'fancied' himself in charge of the restaurant instead of their father. He said Kinsen was the general manager and that he liked to project an important image before the media and the public.
Ronald contended that their father had been in charge and made important decisions up to his death, contrary to Kinsen's earlier testimony that their father had left the restaurant business to him.
'[Kinsen] likes to be in the spotlight. He fancied himself being the boss of the restaurant. He was trying to create the impression that he was the heir,' Ronald said.
However, he agreed that Kinsen helped promote the restaurant by studying dishes and encouraging chefs to join cooking competitions.
He also agreed that the two of them worked in different areas, Kinsen more on the restaurant and himself being more 'backstage', taking on investments and projects.
The court heard that Ronald hurriedly passed a resolution with his son's support to change the quorum of the meeting. The two brothers had all along discussed business matters between themselves and there had been no formal board meeting in more than 30 years.
Ronald said the change was intended to make future meetings more efficient, with no need to wait for everyone to be present.
'Yet only two people were needed, you and your brother,' Jat said.
Ronald said it was urgent to pass the resolution that day as it was expensive to use a secretariat company, which had been hired.
The hearing continues.