Ms Chee Siok Chin has taken out a court application to look into the matter of the Official Assignee (OA) denying her permission to travel to Stanford University to attend a Summer Fellowship Program conducted by the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).
The OA’s office had initially rejected her application because it said that her trip did not benefit her creditors which is the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The CDDRL then said that it would pay Ms Chee an honorarium which would be used to pay the creditors.
The OA’s office still refused to allow Ms Chee to attend the programme but now said that the refusal was due to Ms Chee being “uncooperative”.
The court application which will be heard on 11 Aug 08, Monday at 10 am seeks to review the OA’s decision. The affidavit that Ms Chee filed is reproduced below.
I, Chee Siok Chin, do hereby solemnly make oath and say as follows:
1 I was adjudicated a bankrupt through a Bankruptcy Order taken out by the Attorney General’s Office in August 2007.
2 On March 12 2008, I received a letter via email from the director of Centre on Democracy Development and Rule of Law (CDDRL) that I had been selected to participate in the Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development Program at Stanford University.
3 I tried to make the online application to travel soon after that. However, I was informed that travel applications could only be made within two months to the time of intended departure.
4 As I had to give CDDRL a confirmation to my participation, I wrote an email to Mrs. Chong Poh Yin, the officer in the Official Assignee’s office who is assigned to my case. This email was sent to her on April 28 2008. I had attached the CDDRL’s acceptance letter to that email and explained that I needed a prompt reply from her.
5 I did not receive a response from Mrs. Chong PY. I re-sent the email at least three more times on the following dates 02/05/08, 08/05/08 and 13/05/08. But I did not receive any reply to any of my emails.
6 I put in my online travel application in mid-June. I was asked to meet with Mrs. Chong on July 3 2008. At that meeting I was told that a Ms Anu Muniandy had wanted to speak to me as well.
7 Ms Anu told me that I had to submit my CPF statement and Notice of my Income Tax Assessment. She also told me to put in writing why I would not name the persons who sometimes gave me financial help. I submitted all required information within a week.
6 On July 11 2008, I received an email from Mrs. Chong that my travel application had bee rejected. The stated reason for the rejection is
“Since the making of the Bankruptcy Order against you, you have made several trips overseas. However, none of these travels have translated into a benefit to your creditors. We have now considered your recent application to travel and also note that it will not be a benefit to your bankruptcy estate and to your creditors and therefore, please note that your application to travel has been rejected.”
9 I wrote an email to the Minister for law on July 14 2008 and received a response from the ministry on July 18 2008. The letter stated that the OA,
“has full discretion to grant or disallow the travel application…We regret to inform you that the decision to reject your travel application remains.”
10 On July 22 2008, the director of CDDRL, Mr Michael McFaul wrote to the Minister and copied to the OA, a letter that states,
“We understand that her request to travel was denied because it will bring no benefit to her bankruptcy estate and to her creditors. We would like to call your urgent attention to a new development that renders this assessment out of date. Ms. Chee has been invited to give a public lecture here at Stanford University, during her stay as a Summer Fellow, with an honorarium of US$2,000. (Please see the attached letter of invitation). Since all of her expenses as a summer fellow will be covered separately, we would assume that her honorarium earnings could be used to help meet her obligations to her creditors upon her return, benefiting all concerned”.
11 I received an email from Mrs Chong on July 28 2008 that rejected this appeal without giving a reason. The email reads,
“Dear Ms Chee
We refer to your e-mail below. Please note that our position in this matter remains the same.”
12 I verily believe that under the circumstances there is no valid reason in good faith for the Official Assignee to reject my application to leave jurisdiction for the fellowship.
13. As far as I can see, the Official Assignee is not acting in good faith in the matter in the which the decision was arrived at.
14. I pray for the refusal of permission for me to travel to be reviewed accordingly.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
In the matter of Section 131 of the Bankruptcy Act (Cap 20) Bankruptcy Act
In the matter of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322) and Ruls of Court (Cap 322 Rule 5)
CHEE SIOK CHIN
(NRIC No. S1759462/A)
(No I.D. Exists)
LET ALL PARTIES concerned attend before the Judge in open court on the day of 2008 am/pm on the hearing of an application by the Applicant, namely:-
1. The decision of the Respondent to refuse permission for the Applicant to leave the jurisdiction for Standford University, California, United States for the period from 28th July 2008 till 15th August 2008 be reviewed and varied accordingly.
2. The respondent be made to pay the disbursements incurred of this application herein.
Dated this day of August 2008
Entered No. of 2008
This summons is takem out by Chee Siok Chin
Blk 240, Toa Payoh, #06-108
The grounds of this application are set out in the affidavit of Chee Siok Chin filed herewith.
Note: This summons may not be served more than 6 calendar months after the above date unless renewed by order of the court
If a respondent does not attend personally or by his counsel or solicitor at the time and place mentioned, such order will be made as the court may think just and expedient
Unless otherwise provided in any written law, where the applicant intends to adduce evidence in support of an Originating Summons he must do so by affidavit, and must file the affidavit/s and serve copy thereof on every respondent not later than 7 days after the service of the Originating Summons.