KUALA LUMPUR - Former beauty queen Pauline Chai Siew Phin is claiming that the divorce petition filed against her here by tycoon Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng is now "academic", with an English court declaring them as being officially divorced.
In a message to The Star through her counsel New Sin Yew, Chai, 70, said: "I'm so relieved that I have a resolution to this long, four-year process. I look forward to moving on to the next chapter in life with my family."
New contended that with the British court ruling, the divorce proceedings in Malaysia could be considered "redundant".
"It is academic. The marriage has ended. The English court declared on Thursday that they are officially divorced. The decree absolute has been granted to her there.
"In UK, the lawyers are waiting for the split of assets," he said. (The decree absolute is the legal document that ends the marriage.)
The Guardian reported that the marriage of the couple who are embroiled in a high-profile court fight over money has ended.
The report stated that a High Court judge in London is expected to rule on the size of payout Chai should receive later this year.
New said the Family Court here has set March 28 for case management on Chai's application to strike out Khoo's divorce petition.
However, Khoo's lawyer Goh Siu Lin said the English court's decision did not change the legal position that Malaysian courts have jurisdiction to hear Khoo's divorce petition.
"The English decree absolute is not automatically recognised in Malaysia.
"The Malaysian courts still retain jurisdiction to hear the Malaysian divorce petition which is pending," she said when contacted yesterday.
Chai, Miss Malaysia/International 1969, filed her latest application to strike out Khoo's petition on June 20 last year.
On April 28, 2016, a Federal Court denied Chai leave to appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling that she did not have the right to choose her domicile of choice as common law stated that a wife's domicile must follow that of her husband.
This resulted in Khoo, 77, proceeding with his divorce petition against her in Malaysia.
The tycoon wanted his divorce proceedings heard here instead of in England.
Chai wanted a British court to decide on the divorce proceedings, claiming she had not been living in Malaysia since 1980 and is a resident of Britain.
Chai and Khoo, who married in 1970, have five children. She filed the divorce proceedings in England on Feb 14, 2013, seeking half of Khoo's wealth as settlement.
Chai filed the divorce petition on grounds of unreasonable behaviour against Malaysia's 44th wealthiest man (according to the Forbes 2015 list of Malaysia's 50 richest persons).
Khoo is chairman of international investment holdings company Malayan United Industries Bhd and owns 44 per cent of British fashion and furnishings retailer Laura Ashley Holdings.