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Tang's wife loses appeal for damages

Straits Times September 17, 1999

THE wife of opposition politician Tang Liang Hong has lost her appeal for damages from PAP leaders, whom she claimed had caused her financial loss and mental distress by including her in a court order to freeze her husband's assets.

Mrs Tang, who is also known as Madam Teo Siew Har, lost her case before the Court of Appeal yesterday. The housewife, represented by Mr Daniel John, appealed last month against a High Court decision earlier this year that she was not entitled to damages.

Mr Tang, a lawyer, had fled Singapore after he lost in the last General Election.

Eleven PAP leaders, including Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, won defamation suits against him and took out a worldwide Mareva injunction against Mr Tang and his wife on Jan 27, 1997, to prevent them from getting rid of assets to avoid paying damages.

Justice G. P. Selvam ruled earlier this year that the Tangs' family bungalow at 75, Hua Guan Avenue, although in Madam Teo's name, had been purchased with money provided by her husband.

The judge said Mr Tang had an interest in the property, which was mortgaged to the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation for $3.2 million.

Madam Teo's case was that the house was a "gift" to her from her husband.

She wanted damages for not being able to sell the house at $4.5 million as it was frozen under the injunction, or $562,168 for the shortfall she owes the bank after it repossessed the house and sold it for $2.97 million.

She also wanted damages for mental distress and anxiety.

But the appeals court accepted the arguments of SM Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, that Mr Tang did have an interest in the house.

The court -- Judges of Appeal L. P. Thean and Chao Hick Tin and Justice Tan Lee Meng -- noted that Mr Tang had paid for the family home. He also took out a few mortgages on it, all without consulting his wife.

The court also found that Madam Teo was not entitled to damages for mental distress and anxiety.

Published in the Straits Times. September 17, 1999

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