Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VA Governor McDonnell Expected to Sign Child Abduction Bill Today

VA Governor's Signature Expected Today

Virginia House Bill HB2361 on International Child Abduction Prevention & Recovery passed the House and Senate last month with unanimous support, and has been awaiting the governor's final signature to be passed into law.

I received a phone call from Delegate Jennifer McClellan's office this morning, advising me that Governor McDonnell will sign the Bill into law today. (A video of Delegate McClellan's statement to the House is found at this link here with just one of the numerous unanimous votes).

With any luck, by midnight tonight, Virginia will have the first law in the US which provides for the seizure and forfeiture of assets of international child abductors who kidnap children, both to and from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Bill is not perfect.

I know because I wrote it.

A lot of the proposals also didn't make it through, such as the creation of a pool of judges to handle Hague Convention cases, together with a drastic tightening up of how the authorities are to handle the reporting of international child abduction cases.

However, these are all issues to be revisited in the next legislative session, and in the meantime, there are plans to seek introduction of the concept to other states.

For now, I'm just waiting on the call from the VA Capitol that HB2361 has finally made it onto the statute books.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Andrew Ko Update on William & Christopher Re-Adjusting Back to Home

Father's Update on Ko Twins after return from Singapore to California

Andrew Ko successfully recovered his twin sons, Andrew and William and returned to California last week. The Ko twins return is the first return of children from Singapore since the ague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction went into effect.

However, the return of the Ko twins did not rely on the Hague Convention at all - Singapore judges decided to do it all on their own because it was the right thing to do to recognize the US held proper jurisdiction and not to give any assistance to an international child kidnapper.

Singapore ought to be proud of these judges - they have set a good example to everyone.

Here in Andrew Ko's own words is an update on what has been happening since William and Christopher made it back home to California:

The boys are doing great. They came home to their room late Tuesday night and immediately picked up their old toys. Some Japanese card game. Then I saw Christopher measuring his height against their bunk beds. He did a few chin ups on the upper frame, then laughed.

On Wednesday morning they woke up late due to jet lag. Poured themselves a glass of milk and had eggs for brunch. Then they went outside to play basketball.

We had to go see the Minor's Counsel so she can report to the judge that they are returned.

School will start on Monday at the same school they attended when they were abducted. It is 2 blocks away from home and is a familiar environment with friends. They know the basketball coach very well from a previous basketball program. They love basketball had basketballs with them at the airport so they will have lots of fun.

They have made great strides since the Singapore airport on Tues morning. They had a great time on the flight to LA and played the onboard video games, movies and ordered snacks from the attendants. Room service in the air!

At the Singapore airport, a brother-in-law to the mother came over to see me and said he wanted to talk to me. He said you have to remember to do the right thing for the boys. This is funny coming from Choy Kin Chong, a retired Singapore Army Colonel. Why didn't he call me 18 months ago to talk; or better yet talk to the boys' mother after they found out she is wanted by Interpol for kidnapping. I AM DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THE BOYS. The Wong family has in Singapore 4 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 sister-in-laws, 3 brother-in-laws and none of them thought enough to talk to their sister to return the boys in 18 months? Instead, they financed her actions. From the mother's previous Declarations in the US, the funding came from the US and Singapore siblings. In Singapore the family business Fung Mui HKS Gararge R on Targore Lane funded her bills. In the US, sister Jane Lee-Shue and brother-in-law Richard from Clearwater FL run a Chinese restaurant that helped fund her here. Maybe if business slowed down, they can't help finance a kidnapper wanted by Interpol, FBI and the State of California!

When we were leaving the airport on Tues, I said Hi to the boys and they responded with "shut up asshole." Either the education system in Singapore or the culture at home has a problem, or both. The boys NEVER talked like that when they were here in the US. Aunty May and her daughter who were walking right next to the boys did not even blink an eye when the outburst came out. Aunty May, husband Derek and their 4 children live in the same home with the boys. Maybe this type of language is allowed in the home so there was no reaction from her at all. This is not a proper environment for impressionable boys. Just incredible that they talk like that.

As you know, child abduction is one of the worst form of child abuse. There will be adjustment and healing going forward. But the boys are doing extremely well for just 4 days. The plan is a playdate on Friday and possibly a sleepover with a few old buddies.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Andrew Ko Flying Abducted Twin Sons Home from Singapore - The First Return from Singapore

Andrew Ko is at this moment sitting in Cathay Pacific 747 somewhere over the Pacific with his twin sons, abducted in 2009 from California to Singapore. Today, Singapore returns the first children abducted their from the US, under the Hague Convention, which is fast work given the Hague Convention only came into force on March 1 of this year in Singapore.

The return of the Ko twins after 18 months is hard on them, hard on Andrew and hard on their mother who is remaining in Singapore (and 'yes' I know she is the kidnapper). But this is normal in many instances and will pass fairly quickly. It is the long term affects on the children, which will come to develop as they get older, that highlights the truly abusive nature of international child kidnapping.

My feelings of sympathy for mom are curtailed. She has thoroughly manipulated and alienated the Ko twins, William and Christopher. In addition, she has thoroughly manipulated the legal systems of both the US and Singapore, and it hasn't stopped right up to this very moment. All to simply stop the children from having any relationship with their dad.

Mother was ordered to either (a) send the twins home by today, or (b) the father could recover them.

What follows is typical of some of the skullduggery perpetrated by international child abductors, and remember this is just the tip of an 18 month iceberg. This is in Andrew Ko's own words:

Hi All,
We checked-in and are waiting at the airline lounge for our flight out of Singapore in about 3 hours.  This morning was touch and go. The mother did not deliver the boys on Monday 10AM as requested.  I spent the day going between the police to make a report , my lawyer's and talking with the US Embassy officer.  The US Embassy faxed a letter to the Judge who ordered the children returned and the Singapore Police highlighting the fact that the mother breached the order by not producing the airline tickets until well past the deadline set by the judge. I got a call around 7PM from a police officer who advised me to take the Police Report and the Court Order to the High Court to get further directions.  When I was making the police report, I was told that "you are wanted" by the police.  But I wasn't stopped at immigration so it was not a serious matter.  I had to go to another police station and was told that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority who is responsible for issuing birth certificates said I might have "falsified information" on the birth certificate, i.e. claiming I was the father of the boys when I was not.  I told them I am the father PERIOD.  I asked the investigator why it took ICA 9 years (Dec 2009) to ask this question when the birth certificate was issued in March 2000 when the children were born.  He laughed.  Just increditble. The mother's lawyer notified my lawyer that she wants an extra day and will deliver the boys at the Singapore Airlines check-in counter at 7.30AM on Tues.   My main concern is she would put them on the flight as unaccompanied minors without me.   Then last night I noticed that the mother provided copies of tickets for the boys on March 10 (they were due on Mar7) but the tickets were one way tickets.  I immediately went to travel.state.govand sure enough you cannot enter the US with a one-way ticket using a foreign passport. The mother had fraudulently applied for Singapore passports for the boys (that is how they were able to leave in Aug 2009).  I communicated this to the US Embassy officer and she had included this in the letter to the judge.  The 1952 US Immigration Act Section 215b states it is unlawful for a US citizen to attempt to depart or enter the US without a valid US passport.  The mother already broke that law when she abducted the boys with Singapore passports. I went to the airport at 6.30AM with my lawyer Mr. Teo.  We explained the situation to the airline supervisor.  He said they are travelling with US passports.  I started to sweat.  I called Consular Officer Rachel Sunden and she immediately called Washington and was able to confirm the boys DO NOT have valid US passports.  We guess the mother provided a fake passport number so that she would buy one-way tickets to the US.  Rachel found out later that the mother was advised by her US lawyer Cynthia De Petris that it is ok for the boys to enter the US with Singapore passports.  This is against the law Cynthia!  You should stick to Family Law and not immigration law. The airline did not and cannot check the boys in.  It took about 45 min. to convince the family that the Court Order did not allow for the boys to travel alone.  The mother has the option to accompany them but if she did not board the flight, I can retrieve the boys immediately.  Mr. Teo and Rachel were able to talk the family into allowing the boys to go to the US Embassy to get passports accompanied by their Aunt and cousin.   On the way out of the airport I said "hello boys" and one of them replied "shut up asshole."  It is going to be a long road to normal.  This family in Singapore really did a good job in ruining 2 perfectly good boys. We got to the Embassy and in about an hour got our emergency passports.  Then we headed to the therapist.  We offered the Aunt to accompany them and then to say her goodbyes.  The boys were very angry at the therapist.  They said they didn't love me, asked me to leave them alone and threw tissue at me plus kick a table towards me.  The therapists Dorothy and Teresa were great and worke with them. Then the Aunt refused to leave.  I explained to Dorothy that the longer the Aunt stays, the harder it is for the boys to accept that they are going back home.  So after some explaining, the Aunt and cousin left.  We were trying to be nice by offering the Aunt to accompany the boys to the Therapist and she wouldn't leave! Since the boys were acting up, I called my friend Phang and asked him to come pick us up and also asked a dear friend Vanessa to come and help.  Vaness is the one who put up the posters of the mother and boys and was called into the police station.  She is a real trooper.  At 1PM we left and headed to the hotel to checkout.  Another great friend Priscilla arranged for a large van and extended our checkout time at the hotel.  Finally around 3PM we arrived at the airport and checked in. We had one more hurdle.  That is leaving with new US passports when the boys entered with Singapore passports.  It took a few minutes to explain and we are now sitting in the lounge.  If all goes well, we will arrive at 915PM on Tues at LAX on Cathay Pacific flight 880 from Hong Kong.  The journey for the boys is now starting.  We will need your prayers, suggestions (which sometimes I might not listen to), and lots of love to get the boys back to the way they were.  Thank  you all for your help and support.
For Andrew, William and Christopher, there is going to be a new beginning which will start at around 9am PST (midday EST), but no-one should be under any illusions about how difficult it is going to be. There will be some who will say (inevitably) why didn't the boys simply get left with mom rather than going through this upheaval.

My response to this is simple - listen to the adult victims of international child abduction and what they have to say about this heinous crime:

              Sam's Story

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Andrew Ko - Wins Order for Return of Twin Sons from Singapore

Andrew Ko successfully won a return order from the courts in Singapore for his twin sons, William and Christopher.  The boys were abducted from California to Singapore in August 2009, and in this instance the return order appears to be relatively quick - especially given Singapore has only recently signed the Hague Convention.

Rather than me prattle on, I think it better if Andrew's own words speak for him and what he
is asking us all to do:

Hello everyone, 
I wanted to let you all know that I am in Singapore as I write, and we are hopefully on the 
brink of some very positive news from the Singapore court.   On March 3rd, the Singapore
judge is scheduled to rule on my motion to have the Singapore court recognize the US
Court Order, issued Sept. 14, 2010, awarding full, permanent custody to me.   While
nothing is certain, there have been numerous indicators throughout this saga that
Singapore recognizes that the US is the appropriate forum for determining custody of my
sons.    I am very, very hopeful that on March 3rd, the judge will rule that the US court
order is to be recognized and respected by Singapore, and the boys returned to my
custody to be brought home to the United States. 
As we have seen in other cases, most notably Sean Goldman's, the most effective tool
to impart justice in cases of international parental abduction is the instigation of
government-to-government dialogue.  Pressure applied through appropriate diplomatic
channels makes a difference for our children!  This dialogue comes about almost
exclusively through the application of public pressure.   
Therefore, I respectfully and passionately issue this call to action: 
Please encourage your friends and associates to do the same.  Please demand that
US diplomates and officials engage Singapore in order to adhere to the Hague Convention
on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and take an active role in ensuring
the safe, just and rightful return of these young victims to their father and to their home
here in the U.S. 
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500 
Use this link to email President Obama:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Use this link to email Attorney General Holder:
Office of U.S. Representative Christopher H. Smith - New Jersey
2373 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515
p 202-225-3765
f  202-225-7768 
If you live in California, please write to Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and your local
congress representative.
Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
501 I Street, Suite 7-600
Sacramento, CA  95814 
Use this link to email Senator Boxer:
Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA  94101 
Use this link to email Senator Feinstein:

The paragraph below is a sample that can be used for reaching out to elected officials. 
Please email, fax, or call your Senators and Congress members in your home state, as
they will likely not respond to non-constituents.   
Dear (official's name),
Christopher Ko and William Ko are minor children who were abducted to Singapore. 
The US Government needs to communicate to the Singapore Government that we want
the boys returned.  I am asking you as my elected official to contact Hillary Clinton -
State Dept, Attorney General Holder - Justice Dept and President Obama to ask that
they contact their counterparts in the Singapore Government to strongly express our
desire to see the boys returned home to the United States.  The case is entering its
18th month and it is time my government got involved!  Christopher's NCIC case number
is M648309789 and William's is M308382442.

On behalf of my boys, William and Christopher, who turn 11 this month, thank you from
the bottom of my heart.
Andrew Ko
Singapore acceded to the Hague Convention in December 2010 and will start enforcing decisions
with effect from March 1st 2011 - the development means that Ko's US custody order is now
recognized by the Singaporean courts and the mother has been ordered to return the children.
This does not preclude her from appealing the decision, and there is still the thorny issue of
enforcement but for Andrew, William and Christopher at least, the prospect of reunification is
looking to be a very real and close prospect.

Do your best to make your voice heard and take 5 minutes to contact the Senators and President
Obama as Andrew Ko requests.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Emily Rose Hindle - 9 Years Old Today

Emily Rose Hindle - 9 years old today - Happy Birthday Titch - Daddy's Coming!

The VA Bill is awaiting Gov. McDonnell's signature and Emily Koyama's case is in holding pattern while the Costa Rican courts get themselves sorted out. Meanwhile, the US appellate process has ended and it is now, finally, time to get back into court in FL to straighten things out.

I was interviewed over the weekend on the issue of international child abduction and one thing I said, and always say to left-behind Mom's and Dad's is not to quit.

When you were born, you were blue and silent for a fraction of time far too long for my comfort - what felt like an eternity passed before you took a breath and made sure the world knew you'd arrived. 

Most of all, you marked my heart darling and it will never, ever fade.

Happy Birthday Emily Rose and we're not together still, but mark your Daddy well - I love you and I will never, ever give up on you.

All my Love and a Happy Birthday for You,

Daddy xxx