Sunday, 13 January 2013

'I'm not a bankrupt'

Siow Tin Hwa (centre) showing his notice with Mak Kah Keong (left) and Ben Liew Pok Boon. Pic by Che Rani Che Din

AMPANG: Retiree Siow Tin Hwa, 56, thought that he had settled his housing loan with Affin Bank in January 2009.

But his world turned upside down after he learnt that he had been declared a bankrupt since 2007.
Siow was informed about his bankruptcy status when he went to renew his passport early last year. An Immigration officer rejected his passport renewal saying that he was an undischarged bankrupt.
Siow was shocked to hear the news and immediately referred the matter to the Insolvency Department. An officer there told him that a bankruptcy notice was sent to his house in Taman Mega Jaya, here, in 2007 but Siow did not receive it as he was not staying there.
Siow lives in another house in Jalan Teratai here.
What baffled Siow most was that after he was made a bankrupt, he was still able to transact business with many banks and had even visited Singapore in 2008.
He had owed Affin Bank about RM67,000 but claimed that he had fully settled the debt in October 2009.
He alleged that the bank had failed to notify the Insolvency Department immediately upon him discharging all his debts. Affin Bank only alerted the Insolvency Department about his settlement in July last year.
What upset Siow was that the Insolvency Department had demanded a service charge of RM2,300 to have his bankruptcy status annulled at the court.
The retiree highlighted his plight during a press conference called by the Teratai constituency public complaints bureau chief Ben Liew Pok Boon, recently.
"I started clearing my housing debt in October 2008 after receiving warning letters and settled it four months later in January 2009.
"It is unfair to penalise me when I was unaware that I was a bankrupt, what's more when the insolvency letter was sent to my second house," said the father of four.
Siow is keen to erase the bankruptcy stigma and appeals to the Insolvency Department to reduce the service charge as it is too burdensome.
Lawyer Mak Kah Keong, who was also present, urged the Insolvency Department to consider favourably Siow's case and review its system and procedures so that such incidents do not recur.