BHR (the natural mother of B) v Child Protector

CourtJuvenile Court (Singapore)
JudgeEdgar Foo
Judgment Date19 February 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] SGJC 1
Citation[2014] SGJC 1
Hearing Date19 February 2014
Docket NumberMA No 086/2013/02
Published date26 May 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Fu Qi Jing, State Counsel
District Judge Edgar Foo: Grounds of Decision Introduction

The Child Protection Services (“CPS”), Family and Child Protection and Welfare Branch, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore (“MSF”) had made an application (“the 1st application”) pursuant to Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act (Cap 38) (“the Act”) seeking care and protection orders for one B, male, born on XXX (“the child”) against his natural mother, BHR (“the mother”).

I heard the 1st application over 2 afternoons on 24 and 25 April 2013 and I made the following orders on 25 April 2013 (hereinafter called “my 1st order):- That the child be committed to a place of safety, namely XXX (“XXX”) for a period of 7 months under Section 49(1)(c) of the Act; That the mother and Mr C (“the father”) to enter into a bond of $2000 each to exercise proper care and guardianship of the child under Section 49(1)(a) of the Act; That the parents, the maternal grandparents and/or any other significant person(s) to have regular access (supervised or otherwise) with the child during the period of the order, subjected to the review by the Approved Welfare Officer (“AWO”) and in accordance to the rules and regulations of XXX. That the mother to refrain from visiting the child at his school, XXX and the surrounding vicinity for the period of the order; That the mother and the child to be mandated to undergo any psychological and psychiatric assessment/treatment and/or counselling programme as deemed necessary by the AWO under Section 51(1) of the Act; That the mother to enter into a bond of $2000 to comply with the aforesaid order under Section 51(2) of the Act; and That the AWO is to keep the mother informed of the child’s progress in school.

The mother being dissatisfied with my 1st order then had appealed against my 1st order.

The appeal against my 1st order was fixed for hearing before Justice Choo Han Teck on 15 November 2013 and Justice Choo Han Teck granted leave to the mother to withdraw the appeal without prejudice to any appeal against an extension of my 1st order, if any, be granted.

On the 22 November 2013, CPS filed a Review Report dated 19 November 2013 (“Review Report”) and made another application for my 1st order to be extended by a period of 12 months (“the 2nd application”). The mother, who was then represented by M/s Optimus Chambers, objected to the 2nd application and the matter was fixed for a Family Conference on 9 December 2013 to see if parties are able to resolve their differences amicably.

The parties were not able to resolve their differences at the Family Conference on 9 December 2013 and directions were given by DJ Colin Tan to CPS to file their supplemental report relating to the 2nd application and the matter was adjourned to 12 December 2013 for parties to argue the issue of the extension of my 1st order pending the hearing on the 2nd application.

On 12 December 2013, the mother’s lawyers M/s Optimus Chambers informed the Court that the mother had discharged their services. M/s Optimus Chambers also told the Court that they had informed the mother of the hearing date on 12 December 2013 but the mother had failed to attend court on that day. DJ Colin Tan then directed CPS to furnish their supplemental report by 13 January 2014 and for the matter to be further fixed on 20 January 2014.

The mother again failed to attend Court on 20 January 2014 and DJ Masayu decided to further adjourn the matter to 27 January 2014 to enable the mother to attend the hearing. DJ Masayu also directed that a Summons be issued against the mother to compel her attendance in Court on 27 January 2014.

The matter was fixed before me on 27 January 2014. The mother did not attend Court a 3rd time on 27 January 2014. CPS served the Summons on the mother at her last known address by way of registered post on 21 January 2014 and they also filed their Affidavit of Service to confirm the same. On the 27 January 2014, State Counsel for CPS Mr Fu Qi Jing also informed me CPS had spoken to the mother over the telephone on 22 January 2014 and had informed her of the hearing date on 27 January 2014.

In the absence of the mother, State Counsel Mr Fu Qi Jing applied for my 1st order to be extended by 12 months and the father, Mr C, who was represented by M/s Chris Gill & Co supported CPS’s application.

I considered the reasons given by CPS in both their Review Report and their supplemental report dated 13 January 2014 with regard to the 2nd application (“Supplemental Report”) and I ordered the following (“my 2nd order”) :- That the child be committed to a place of safety, namely XXX for a period of 12 months under Section 49(1)(c) of the Act; That the mother and the father to enter into a bond of $2000 each to exercise proper care and guardianship of the child under Section 49(1)(a) of the Act; That the mother to refrain from visiting the child at his school, XXX and the surrounding vicinity for the period of the order. That the mother, the father and the child to be mandated to undergo any psychological and psychiatric assessment/treatment and/or counselling programme as deemed necessary by the AWO under Section 51(1) of the Act; That the mother and the father to enter into a bond of $2000 to comply with the aforesaid order under Section 51(2) of the Act; and That the parents, the maternal grandparents and/or any other significant person(s) access with the child during the period of the order, be subjected to the review by the AWO and in accordance to the rules and regulations of XXX.

The mother being dissatisfied with my 2nd order is now appealing against my 2nd order.

Background

With regard to the 1st application, I had decided that the child was in need of care and protection under both Sections 4(d)(i) and Section 4(g) of the Act and I had made my 1st order accordingly. I do not propose to repeat the background relating to the 1st application and my reasons for my 1st order save that all these can be found in my Grounds of Decision relating to my 1st order in XXX.

With regard to the 2nd application, CPS has sought the following orders:- That the child be committed to a place of safety, namely XXX for a period of 12 months under Section 49(1)(c) of the Act; That the parents to enter into a bond of $2000 each to exercise proper care and guardianship of the child under Section 49(1)(a) of the Act; That the mother’s access with the child be suspended for a period until the completion of the child’s psychological assessment under Section 49(2) of the Act; That the mother to refrain from visiting the child at his school, XXX and the surrounding vicinity, under Section 49(2) of the Act; That the mother, the father and the child to be mandated to undergo any psychological and psychiatric assessment/treatment and/or counselling programme as deemed necessary by the AWO under Section 51(1) of the Act; That the mother and the father to enter into a bond of $2000 to comply with the aforesaid order under Section 51(2) of the Act; and That the parents, the maternal grandparents and/or any other significant person(s) access with the child during the period of the order, be subject to the review by the AWO and in accordance to the rules and regulations of XXX.

As regards to the 2nd application, the issue before me is whether there exist any change of circumstances from the time I made my 1st order (ie on 24 April 2013) to the present date to warrant/justify the cancellation/rescission of my 1st order. In this regard I will have to consider whether the child is still in need of care and protection under Sections 4(d)(i) and Section 4(g) given the welfare and best interest of the child as of paramount interest.

I note that since the date of my 1st order, the child has had no contact with the father and very limited contact with the mother. The child has declined to have any contacts with the father while the mother was unwilling to be engaged by CPS. I also note that CPS had made multiple attempts to engage the mother with an intention to arrange access between her and the child but to no avail. CPS was only able to arrange for the first supervised access by the mother to the child on 30 November 2013. During the period from 22 November 2013 to 10 January 2014, CPS arranged for 5 supervised access sessions between the mother and the child on 30 November 2013, 14 December 2013, 19 December 2013, 28 December 2013 and 3 January 2014. The mother did not attend 2 of the confirmed access sessions on 14 December 2013 and 28 December 2013i.

I also note that despite my 1st order, the mother had, to date, refused to sign the bonds for proper care and guardianship of the child and for the mandatory counsellingii.

It is also to be noted that the father has applied to the Family Court for a variation of the custody order for the child’s care and the matter has been fixed for pre-trial conference. Currently, the mother has sole custody, care and control of the childiii.

The Child Protector’s case in respect of the 2nd application

CPS has tendered the Review Report and the Supplemental Report in support of their 2nd application. CPS has also raised the following areas of concern:- The mother’ resistance to CPS’s intervention impacting on the child’s emotional and psychological well-being and possible reintegration plans a. Since the child’s admission to XXX in August 2012, there had been lack of contacts between the mother and the child. To date, other than one occasion where the child had accidentally bumped into the mother on 12 March 2013, there has only been 3 supervised access between the child and the motheriv. During the 3 supervised access sessions, even though CPS informed the mother that the purposes of the sessions were to re-establish relationships and build on understanding each other better, CPS noted that the mother refused to listen to the child when he...

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