Liew Kah Heng v Kwok Fong Ee

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeEddy Tham Tong Kong
Judgment Date03 March 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 7
Citation[2000] SGDC 7
Published date19 September 2003



The background

1 The parties have divorced. The order of decree nisi dated 1 April 1997 included an order of custody of their only child ("the child"), a daughter, to be given to the appellant with reasonable access to the respondent. Subsequently, on 31 March 1998, the respondent applied for the order of custody to be varied to giving her custody care and control of the child with reasonable access to be given to the appellant. The matter went for hearing resulting in an Order of Court dated 4 January 1999, granting the appellant and respondent joint custody of the child with care and control to the respondent and access to the appellant.

2 On 31 October 1999, the respondent wrote to the appellant requesting for permission to bring the child with her out of Singapore for a one year due to work assignment. When asked for more details, the respondent revealed that the destination is Kuala Lumpur for a period of 10 to 12 months with effect from January 2000.

3 On the date of the hearing before me, the child would have been nearly 6 years old, being born on 16th February 1994.

The applications

4 The appellant took out an application on 3 January 2000 for an injunction to prevent the respondent from bringing the child out of jurisdiction and for custody care and control to be given to him during the period for which the respondent would be away. The respondent in turn applied on 7 January 2000 for sole custody of the child to be given to her for the period for which she would be overseas with access being granted to the appellant one weekend every month with the child being brought back to Singapore by the respondent for this purpose.

5 In my view both applications should be dealt with together as the crux of the matter is really whether the court should grant leave to the respondent to bring the child with her to Kuala Lumpur for a period of 10 months. Section 126(3) of the Women’s Charter Cap 353 ("the Charter") clearly states that "where an order of custody is in force, no person shall take the child who is the subject of the custody order out of Singapore except with the written consent of both parties or the leave of the court."

Case for the appellant

6 The appellant felt that it was in the best interests of the child for her to remain in Singapore. Firstly she would not be deprived of the opportunity to enrol in a school in Singapore. The child would be due to register for primary school education this year. He also felt that the child would have difficulty adjusting to education in a Singapore school if the child were to study in an international school during her time in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore the child would not be exposed to the learning of Mandarin in the international school.

7 The second criticism is over the respondent’s ability to devote sufficient time to the nurture and care of the child since the purpose of her trip is for business. In contrast, the appellant’s mother with the assistance of a maid would be able to look after the child.

8 Finally, the appellant asserted that the reason why the respondent was agreeable to give care and control of the child to the appellant in the first instance was because her job required the respondent to travel frequently. Hence, the appellant felt that the respondent’s commitment to her work and personal interests would not allow her to cater to the child’s best interests.

The case for the respondent

9 The respondent on the issue of the child’s education, disagreed that the child would not be able to register for primary school education in Singapore as she could always return from Kuala Lumpur to do so. The respondent also stated that the child would still be exposed to the Mandarin language in the international school and she would reinforce that exposure if necessary through a tutor. She asserted that the child would benefit from the exposure to different cultures...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT