Skip to main content



Judge rejects man's bid to be compensated for being named as witness in wife's lawsuit against PUB

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s attempt to get compensated for being called as the national water agency PUB's witness in his wife’s 2020 lawsuit against the statutory board.

Ms Chan Hui Peng pictured in hospital after she fell into a manhole.

Ms Chan Hui Peng pictured in hospital after she fell into a manhole.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.
  • Mr Sim Kwang Jui was subpoenaed by PUB to be a witness in his wife's lawsuit against the agency over falling into a manhole
  • However, there was no need for him to testify as his wife accepted a settlement before he was scheduled to give evidence
  • He went to court anyway for several days to accompany his wife 
  • He then sought compensation from PUB and its lawyers at the conclusion of the trial
  • A High Court judge rejected the claim, saying it had no legal basis

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s attempt to get compensated for being called as the national water agency PUB's witness in his wife’s 2020 lawsuit against the statutory board.

Mr Sim Kwang Jui, whose age was not given in court documents, had initially sought a sum of about S$785, but raised his claims on three other occasions to a final amount of around S$7,826.

Justice Andre Maniam issued a 22-page written judgement, released on Friday (Sept 23), rejecting Mr Sim's claim for compensation.

Mr Sim has spent the better part of two years pursuing payment that he
is not entitled to. He s
hould stop chasing after the wind,” the judge said. He had also presided over the lawsuit against PUB. 

Mr Sim has spent the better part of two years pursuing payment that he is not entitled to. He should stop chasing after the wind.
Justice Andre Maniam

In a document submitted to the court on Aug 23 this year, Mr Sim said that he would also be seeking for costs incurred as a litigant if he was required to attend a hearing in court for the matter.

To this, Justice Maniam said that he wanted to “deal with the matter based on the written submissions, without requiring Mr Sim to attend an oral hearing”.

Mr Sim is the husband of Ms Chan Hui Peng, a 49-year-old woman who had sued PUB on Nov 23, 2020 for S$5 million after falling into an open manhole, which resulted in her suffering from multiple physical and psychological injuries.

Ms Chan withdrew her claim a few days later on Nov 27 that year after she accepted a confidential settlement offer from PUB.

As part of his wife’s trial, Mr Sim had been subpoenaed by PUB as a witness on Nov 15.

Mr Sim was told that he was not required to attend as a witness from the start of the trial, and was required to be present only on Dec 1. However, as the trial was cut short, he never had to serve as a witness.

He was present in court, though, from Nov 23 to 26 to accompany his wife, Justice Maniam said.

PUB had offered S$1,000 to Mr Sim to settle the matter, even though it was not obliged to compensate him.

Still, Mr Sim rejected the offer despite it being more than the roughly S$785 he initially wanted.


Justice Maniam said in his judgement that Mr Sim sought compensation after the conclusion of his wife’s trial.

His initial claim for about S$785 included expenses for transport, lunch and a day’s worth of his salary — which he placed at S$750 since he claimed to earn S$14,700 a month.

PUB’s position at the time, the judge said, was that it was not obliged to pay Mr Sim anything, though PUB's lawyers from law firm WhiteFern advised the agency to compensate him for his transport and meal expenses anyway, which amounted to around S$35.

Mr Sim was unwilling to settle for this amount, and later filed a complaint with the Small Claims Tribunals on June 22 this year against the law firm for a sum of about S$3,815.

The man also alleged in his claims that he had a contract with WhiteFern to attend court as a subpoenaed witness.

By then, Mr Sim was no longer claiming for one day’s worth of court attendance. He was claiming for some five days, Justice Maniam said, adding that the claim was then dismissed by the Small Claims Tribunals.

At this point, PUB offered Mr Sim S$1,000 to settle the matter, which the man turned down.

Mr Sim said that he would file a lawsuit if he was not paid about S$3,933 — an amount slightly higher than what he had sought at the Small Claims Tribunals.

He also complained to Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment. It was not stated in the judgement if Ms Fu’s office replied.

Justice Maniam said that by the time PUB wrote to Mr Sim for his help in resolving the matter on Aug 4 this year, Mr Sim had once more increased his claims to about S$7,826.

In this round, Mr Sim included claims for an unsuccessful complaint he had made to the Law Society of Singapore on the matter earlier, and his unsuccessful claim in the Small Claims Tribunals.

Mr Sim also included a claim for his time in writing to court on Aug 23 this year, and said that if he were to appear as a litigant in court in future, he would be seeking other legal costs.


In his judgement, Justice Maniam said he decided that neither PUB nor its lawyers were obliged to pay Mr Sim anything for having subpoenaed him.

Among the reasons given for the decision, Justice Maniam said that Singapore has no provisions to compensate subpoenaed witnesses for their time or expenses.

And if Mr Sim “truly believed” that he was obliged to turn up every day until his subpoena was discharged, Justice Maniam said that he should have been there on Nov 27 — the day the trial was vacated.

However, Mr Sim was not there that day, as his wife was not present and there was no need to accompany her to court, the judge added.

He observed that even before the subpoena was served on him, Mr Sim had already mentioned “his original intention to follow (his) wife’s trial proceedings and watch after and take care of (his) wife during her trial”.

Mr Sim had also told WhiteFern that he needed to take time off to attend court as a witness, but left out the fact that he had already applied for leave with his company from Nov 23 to 27 to accompany his wife.

On the matter of Mr Sim being compensated based on his pay, Justice Maniam said that the rate he asked for was questionable as it was based on his previous salary of SS$14,700 a month with his previous employer, the IT consultancy firm Targo Technology.

Mr Sim had resigned from the company on Jan 31 last year, but most of his “litigant time costs” were in relation to things done by him after that date.

The man did not provide any information if he was employed after that date.

“Mr Sim went to court because he was accompanying his wife, the plaintiff," Justice Maniam said.

"He was not attending court on the subpoena, he was not complying with an order to attend court, and he did not incur time and expenses in complying with the subpoena for which he ought reasonably to be compensated. Mr Sim’s claims for payment in relation to the subpoena were thus dismissed.”

PUB's lawyers told TODAY that Mr Sim was not required to pay the agency's legal costs.

Related topics

PUB manhole court compensation Small Claims Tribunals lawyer husband

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.