Billion-dollar divorce dispute: Ex-beauty queen not in Malaysia since 1980

Billion-dollar divorce dispute: Ex-beauty queen not in Malaysia since 1980
Chai at the Kuala Lumpur High Court with daughter Angeline Francis.

KUALA LUMPUR - Former beauty queen Pauline Chai Siew Phin told a High Court here that she left Malaysia in 1980 and has not lived here.

She made infrequent visits over the years.

After leaving in 1980, Chai, 67, said she lived in Perth, Australia, where her two youngest children were born, and she obtained Australian citizenship.

She said she moved to Victoria, Canada, in 1989 with her children and stayed there for 20 years.

"During this time I established my Canadian domicile and citizenship," she said when cross-examined by Datuk Dr Cyrus Das yesterday, counsel for her tycoon husband Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng.

On whether she maintained connections in Malaysia, Chai replied, "I have only one friend in Malaysia and I do not have interests in Malaysia."

She added that her late mother who had lived here visited her all the time.

The former Miss Malaysia/International 1969 was accompanied by her daughter Angeline Francis, 31, bodyguards wearing dark grey bush jackets and the legal team representing Chai in England.

Her London law firm Vardags Ltd has had a legal team here since the first day of the hearing.

Khoo, 75, was also accompanied by his bodyguards and staff.

Chai was testifying in the case to determine the jurisdiction of Khoo's billion-ringgit divorce dispute.

She said that she spent about 40 per cent of her time in Malaysia and about 60 per cent in Canada in 2010.

In October that year, she said she returned to London with Khoo, who was non executive chairman of Laura Ashley, but that she remained there when Khoo returned to Malaysia.

The couple who married in 1970 have five children.

On April 22, the Court of Appeal remitted the case to the High Court here to determine jurisdiction and domicile issues after ruling that there were too many disputed facts.

The Court of Appeal set aside the Dec 11, 2013, High Court decision, which did not require Khoo to meet a conciliatory body in London, and also ruled that he could file his divorce petition in Malaysia.

Chai wants the British court to decide on the divorce as she claims she is no longer domiciled in Malaysia since 1980 and currently lives in Britain.

In February last year, she filed the divorce petition in a London court, seeking a £500mil (S$1.1 billion) settlement. It was reported she would get a smaller portion in matrimonial properties if the matter was decided according to Malaysian law, compared with half his fortune, if the matter were heard in Britain.

Last month, a judge at a London High Court ruled it could hear the divorce case.

The hearing before High Court judge Justice Yeoh Wee Siam continues tomorrow.

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