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Singaporean returns daughter to Thai ex-wife after alleged abduction

Singaporean returns daughter to Thai ex-wife after alleged abduction

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 24 Jan 2020
Author: K.C. Vijayan and Hathai Techakitteranun

Last year, a Singapore court gave them joint custody, but Mr Chie had care and control of the girl, with access arrangements prescribed for Ms Kullada.

A Singaporean dad, who is in a child custody battle with his Thai former wife, traced his young daughter to a shopping mall in Bangkok and drove off with her.

But the happy reunion for Mr Keefe Chie, 35, was short-lived.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage at the mall showed how the Singapore-based sales and marketing director had fetched the girl away on Sunday, while she was with her maternal grandmother.

On Tuesday, after intervention by the Thai police, he returned his 3½-year-old daughter, whom he had not seen or spoken to for more than seven months, to his former wife, Ms Kullada Chaiprasitjinda.

The handover took place at a Bangkok police station, where he explained his position to the police, his sister Chie Zihan told The Straits Times. He will give them a recorded statement at a later date, she added.

Investigations by the Thai police are continuing, following an alleged child abduction complaint by Ms Kullada, 43, a Bangkok-based businesswoman.

The couple had married in Singapore in 2014, two years after they met at a Paris airport. Their daughter was born in Bangkok two years later but they divorced in 2018.

Last year, a Singapore court gave them joint custody, but Mr Chie had care and control of the girl, with access arrangements prescribed for Ms Kullada, he told The Straits Times on Tuesday. "I also have a court order in Thailand saying I have access to my daughter but that is ignored by my ex-wife. So I am going to do everything I can to ensure my rights to my daughter."

He said he had had no contact with his daughter since last May except for two hours in November when the Singapore court ordered Ms Kullada to bring the girl to court.

Mr Chie said he flew to Bangkok to look for his daughter and spend some time with her as well as to get his former wife to comply with the Singapore and Thai court orders.

When contacted, Ms Kullada said Mr Chie had to give two weeks' notice to access their daughter. She also said that on Sunday, she had left her daughter with her mother at an indoor children's play space in Central World mall in Bangkok, before leaving to attend a meeting.

She claimed that her former husband had been stalking her and their child, and had exploited his status as the girl's father to take her away. She added that he explained his way to the mall's security staff to let him take out their child.

She made a police report after the CCTV footage showed him leaving with the child. She believed he was trying to take their daughter out of the country.

"All I want for my daughter is for her to live a normal, peaceful life like any other child," she said.

Mr Chie said that "when my daughter saw me, she beamed, her eyes lit up and she shouted, 'Papa, Papa, Papa'. She ran straight into my arms, hugged and clung to me. I picked her up and could not let go.

He said he took his daughter without waiting for Ms Kullada as he believed she might turn aggressive. "I did not want to have a physical altercation in front of my daughter ."

He said he had informed Ms Kullada that he wanted to see their daughter that weekend but that she had ignored him.

He added that that after he took the child on Sunday, he tried contacting Ms Kullada twice but she did not respond. " She was fully able to contact me if she had wanted to and it was never my intention to hide from her."

Ms Kullada, in a Facebook post, said: "Now the father has returned the child after Pathumwan police pressured him... I got my child back."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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