PM and MPs unable or unwilling to help?

October 10, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Dear SDP,

I am a middle-aged lawyer who has been oppressed and victimized by the banking system in Singapore. I was further victimized by the government of Singapore in my pursuit of court cases against a couple of banks. These actions have resulted in my family being victimized as well. The Prime Minister and the ministers are unable or unwilling to help.

My troubles began in 1997 when my former partner of my law firm committed criminal breach of trust. He had withdrawn large amounts of cash on more than 10 occasions from the law firm which had a client account with Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). The bank had even allowed the client account to be in overdraft by more than $250,000 when it was not supposed to.

In March 2003, my family business credit facilities were abruptly recalled by OCBC Bank during the SARS period even when there was no default in loan instalment. Seeking PAP MPs help were futile as they were helpless. My family business credit facilities had been with OCBC for more than 10 years and for no apparent reason they recalled credit facilities during the SARS period which had affected them as I was a guarantor for the facilities. My bankruptcy has affected all the credit facilities.

Eventually, I was made a bankrupt by a wholly owned company of City Development Limited when they reneged on their promise to allow me to pay by instalment for the debt incurred by my ex-partner.

I wanted to sue SCB and OCBC for negligence but I had to seek the consent of the Official Assignee (OA) as I was a bankrupt. The OA, however, placed insurmountable obstacles such as a high cash security deposit of $230,000 which I could not put up.  As a bankrupt how could I have come up with the ridiculous sum? Besides, if I could raise that kind of money, wouldn’t I use it to pay my debts and discharge myself from bankruptcy in the first place?

When I appealed the decision to impose such a prohibitive amount of security costs, the courts rejected it. Seeing that the OA was a big obstacle in my resolving the matter (and the OA is part of the government set up) I wrote to then DPM Lee Hsien Loong between July 2003 to June 2005. His email reply came on 4 March 2005 which was a tremendous let down: “PM has received your email. But sorry, I don’t think we are able to help you in a civil matter like this.”

I acknowledge that the government can do little in the legal action between the banks and I. This is something for the courts to decide and there is little that the PM can do to intervene. But surely the government can do something about the OA making the insane request of demanding $230,000 (for SCB Case) and $120,000 (for OCBC Case) for security for costs when it knows that I am a bankrupt and, what’s more, I have been made “bankrupt” by the very banks (who were the ones who allowed my client account to be in overdraft in the first place) that I want to appeal against.

I fear that this is not a matter that the government can say that it cannot intervene. The reality is that it has absolutely no interest in helping the little guy like myself. This is why I am turning to the SDP to air my grievances when the PM and seeing 2 PAP MPs cannot do anything to help me.

My cases with the OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank were published in the Straits Times on 23 June 2003 and 19 July 2004.

I hope that Singaporeans reading this letter will also visit http://sgpvictimise.blogspot.com. I would be grateful for advice on how I can get out of this nightmare.

THOMAS LOH