Wang sought to avoid death

Nina in denial at death’s door
Adele Wong
July 3, 2009
The Standard
Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum did not believe she was going to die in the final months before cancer claimed her life in April 2007, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Singapore oncologist Dr Tay Eng Hseon said Wang was willing to try anything just to stay alive.

“She did not believe she was going to die. If she did, she did not express it to me,” Tay testified via video conference.

He said he began treating Wang in 2005 – when she was still a bubbly and lively woman – but saw her condition worsen from as early as April 2006.

By August 2006, Wang had deteriorated noticeably, Tay said. Cancer was causing fluid in her lungs and abdomen, necessitating chest and abdominal taps. She had shortness of breath, was fatigued, had an above-normal heartbeat, a low hemoglobin level, and lost nine kilograms in the final months of her Singapore treatment.

At one point, hospital records noted Wang’s mental state was less alert. She was discharged from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore on October 11, 2006 to continue her treatment in Hong Kong, as traveling to Singapore proved too strenuous, the court heard.

Tay was among three witnesses who testified yesterday in the 32nd day of the probate battle between the Chinachem Charitable Foundation and Tony Chan Chun-chuen over multibillionaire Wang’s assets.

Dr Tan Yew Oo, another oncologist who treated Wang, said she did not display obvious signs of delirium during her stay in Singapore, but he admitted he was not a psychiatrist.

The court also heard testimony from a Goldman Sachs managing director who bought 30 million (HK$380.26 million) worth of shares in one of Tony Chan’s companies for Wang, four days before her death at age 69. Private Wealth Management sales director Thomas Chan said he bought the shares in RCG Holdings on Wang’s behalf, but he admitted he did not have either verbal or written confirmation of the transaction.

Chan said he had previously made two similar transactions of 5 million and 15 million since October 2005. He said Wang had expressed an interest in acquiring more shares of RCG Holdings in February 2007, two months before her death.

Chinachem lawyer Denis Chang pointed out that Goldman Sachs had faxed a letter on April 2, 2007 – the day before Wang died – marked “urgent,” asking for confirmation of the 30 million transaction.

Chang also asked if Thomas Chan knew the identity of the beneficial owner of Offshore Group, majority shareholder of RCG Holdings, to which Chan answered “no.”

Chang then asked if it was part of his duty to look into a company’s background after a client had expressed interest. Chan said he had briefly done so, and found no adverse views on RCG Holdings. Chan’s testimony contradicted that of Wang’s personal assistant, Dinly Au Ying-ling, who claimed he had told her a man surnamed Chan had called him regarding the purchase.

The hearing continues today.