PETALING JAYA - Former Malaysian beauty queen Pauline Chai revealed how she bought her tycoon husband Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng a padded toilet seat for his backaches, The Huffington Post UK reported.
In the ongoing divorce trial between the estranged Chai and Khoo, a British High Court heard on Thursday that Khoo would spend "hours" reading and working, while sitting on the toilet.
"He will sit on the toilet for four hours and read and do his work. And he got a backache there, so I got the idea of the padded toilet seat," the Huffington Post UK quoted Chai as telling the Family Division of the High Court in London.
Chai, who won the Miss Malaysia pageant in 1969, is locked in a bitter battle with her husband over where their divorce trial should be conducted.
Khoo, who is Malaysia's 40th richest man according to Forbes 2012 list of Malaysia's wealthiest, could lose half his estimated RM2.75 billion (S$1.08 billion) fortune if the case is played out in Britain.
He bought a 40 per cent stake in Laura Ashley in 1998 and is also chairman and chief executive at Malayan United Industries Bhd. Chai, 66, is seeking half his fortune at London’s High Court.
She filed a petition for divorce in London in February on grounds of “unreasonable behaviour."
Since their estrangement, she claims they have lived in separate mansions on their £30 million estate, Rossway Park, near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
The couple have five children from their 43-year marriage.
According to Madam Chai, she and her husband have not spoken to each other for a year.
Madam Chai, who was crowned Miss Malaysia 1969, lives in the main 15-bedroom house, while Dr Khoo, 74, occupies a five-bedroom manor house nearby. The sprawling grounds include two custom-built lakes and a collection of exotic animals, including alpacas. Strangely enough, each has their own team of Gurkha guards to protect their part of the estate.
Madam Chai says she is now enjoying her freedom and has made new friends through her local church. She said: ‘Now I feel happy. Now I feel different. I feel very free.’
Chai has previous spoken on how Tan had made her feel "like a prisoner" on their sprawling 404ha English country estate. She said she was not allowed to leave their home without Khoo's permission and his staff also informed her in an e-mail that she could only spend £50 (S$102) weekly on food.
"It said fruits were allowed and vegetables were allowed but I was not allowed to eat certain things that I wanted. My daughter said to me that I was being treated like a servant. I think she nailed it," she said in a report by British tabloid Daily Mail.
Chai, who was the Miss Malaysia/International 1969, expressed her happiness after filing for divorce, saying that she felt "controlled and isolated" during her marriage.
Khoo wants the divorce case to be heard in Malaysia, where his wife would be entitled to only a fraction of the settlement she could receive in Britain.
Chai, who filed for divorce from Khoo last year, argued that the trial should be conducted in England, as she had been living there since the 1980s and was no longer a Malaysian citizen.
However, Khoo's lawyers believe that since their marriage took place in Malaysia, local laws dictate that divorce proceedings be determined by the husband's home country.
The Malaysian Federal Court has since directed the case to be returned to the High Court in London, for it to decide which venue is more appropriate for the ensuing legal battle.