Friday, April 22, 2011

Bi-Anne can stay with her father, for now, court rules

PUTRAJAYA: Low Bi-Anne, the child at the centre of an ongoing custody battle, can stay with her father after the Court of Appeal here granted her father interim “full-time access” to care for her on Friday.
Earlier, a three-man panel of the appellate court unanimously ruled that Bi-Anne's father, Low Swee Siong, 41, be given full-time interim access to her.
Bi-Anne and her father are all smiles after the Court of Appeal hearing
The court also granted him a stay order on the custody ruling made by the High Court in 2008, which granted Bi-Anne's custody to her mother, Tan Siew Siew, 38.
In their oral judgment over six appeals filed by the father, the panel - comprising Justices Zaleha Zahari, Azhar Ma'ah and Clement Allan Skinner - made their ruling pending a variation application in the High Court to have the child's custody moved from her mother, to her father.
That application has been fixed for mention on May 6, this year, in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
On the High Court's ruling allowing the child to be taken out of the country, the appellate court found that it was “incompatible with the child's best interest”, and that her wishes should also be taken into consideration.
“The child has clearly expressed that she did not wish to leave Malaysia (for England).
“To tear the child away (from her family and friends here), in these circumstances, is not realistic,” Justice Zaleha ruled.
In view of such findings, the court also ruled that there was no need for Swee Siong to surrender Bi-Anne's passport, and that the RM400-per-day fine imposed of him ceased as of March 3, this year.
As of March 3, Swee Siong, a real estate negotiator, had paid RM71,200 to keep his daughter with him.
Low and Tan were married in 1999. The couple divorced in 2006, and custody of Bi-Anne was given to the father.
Two years later, Tan applied for and won custody and Low was given reasonable access. However, Bi-Anne refused to go with her mother and insisted that she wanted to live with her father.
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