"The grassroots leaders... a lot of them are doing very good work but they don't get time in the media," Ang Mo Kio GRC MP, Intan Azura Mokhtar, said on Monday. "But because of one incident, (they) get highlighted."
Dr Intan was giving her views about public reaction to Chinese national and Singapore permanent resident, Yang Yin, who is embroiled in a legal battle with the niece of an 87-year old woman with whom he had had “a close relationship”.
The niece of the elderly woman, Madam Hedy Mok, is applying to the court to suspend the Lasting Power of Attorney which has given Mr Yang control over her 87-year-old aunt's assets.
Mdm Mok is accusing 40-year old Yang of having taken advantage of a vulnerable woman who was was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year.
Mr Yang, a tour guide, moved into Madam Chung Khin Chun's $30 million Gerald Crescent bungalow after the two met while Mdm Chung was on a trip to Beijing in 2008.
Mr Yang moved into Mdm Chung’s home a year later.
He is now alleged to have taken over her assets worth $40 million in total and brought his family to live with him in Mdm Chung’s bungalow.
He is also accused of cutting off contacts between Mdm Chung and her close friends, and of selling her jewellery and art, emptied her bank accounts and sacking her long-time maid and driver.
60-year-old Mdm Mok, who owns a travel agency, took legal action earlier this year to revoke Mr Yang's guardianship of her aunt's $40 million assets.
The case has sparked online debate with many accusing Mr Yang of being a gold digger and of manipulating the elderly woman just so he could get his hands on her substantial assets.
"He would frequently make physical advances towards (Madam Chung), shamelessly hugging and kissing her in front of myself and the maids and driver," said Madam Chang Phie Chin, 84, a friend of Mdm Chung of 50 years.
"He would have his meals with (Madam Chung), uttering sweet nothings to her,” she said.
"The defendant now has sole authority and control over my aunt's assets and personal welfare, leaving my aunt in a vulnerable situation,” Mdm Mok said in her affidavit. “I deeply fear for my aunt's safety and well-being as the defendant has shown that he has neglected her welfare and is merely manipulating her for his own benefit."
However, when contacted by the media, Mr Yang said he is “leaving everything to the court to decide.”
“My family and I are fine and we believe that the law is fair and just,” the Straits Times on Monday quoted him as having said.
He added, "I have prepared my court affidavit, which I will make public in the next few days."
It soon emerged online that Mr Yang, besides being a Singapore PR, was also active in the grassroots, a fact which MP Intan has now confirmed.
“He came to help out during grassroots events,” said Dr Intan, who is a member of prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s GRC team.
She added, however, that Mr Yang “doesn’t hold a position” in the grassroots.
Mr Yang has apparently been quite active in the grassroots, nonetheless, and has been photographed together with several MPs and Prime Minister Lee.
*Read "The talented Mr Yang" for more on the case and Mr Yang's background.