KUALA LUMPUR - Pauline Chai Siew Phin, the estranged wife of tycoon Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, has failed in her bid to obtain a stay against a High Court decision that the Malaysian courts have jurisdiction to hear their divorce petition.
Justice Yeoh Wee Sian dismissed Chai's application for a stay pending an appeal in the Court of Appeal and held that the appeal was not a special circumstance warranting a stay.
Chai, 68, wanted the British court to decide on the divorce proceedings as she claimed she was no longer domiciled in Malaysia since 1980, and currently lives in Britain.
On Nov 28, last year, the High Court held that under the common law, a wife's domicile must follow that of the husband even if the wife is no longer a Malaysian citizen.
"Accordingly, I rule that that the wife's domicile is in Malaysia. Therefore, the Malaysian court has jurisdiction to hear the case," Justice Yeoh had said in her judgment then.
Khoo, 75, filed his application for dispensation of the need to go before a reconciliation body before divorce under Section 106 of the Law Reform Marriage and Divorce Act.
The couple married in 1970 and have five grown-up children. In February 2013, Chai - the Miss Malaysia/International 1969 - filed for divorce in a London court, seeking a 500 million pound (S$1 billion) settlement.
Khoo, who is the chairman of international investment holdings company Malayan United Industries Bhd and lives in Kuala Lumpur, filed his divorce petition in a Malaysian court.
On April 22 last year, the Court of Appeal remitted the case back to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur for a fresh trial to determine jurisdiction and domicile issues after ruling that there were too many disputed facts.
The Court of Appeal had set aside the High Court's Dec 11, 2013, decision, which did not require Khoo to meet a conciliatory body in London, and ruled that Khoo could file his divorce petition in Malaysia.
It was reported that Chai would get a smaller portion in matrimonial properties if the case was decided according to Malaysian law, compared with an entitlement to half his fortune if it was heard in Britain.
A judge at London's High Court ruled in October last year, that it could hear the divorce proceedings.