Ex-Miss Malaysia's divorce case against tycoon hubby sent back to KL family court

PUTRAJAYA - The divorce case between a former Miss Malaysia and her estranged tycoon husband has been sent back to the Kuala Lumpur family court by the Court of Appeal here.

Justice David Wong ordered that the case of Pauline Chai Siew Phin, the Miss Malaysia/International 1969, and Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng go back to trial, as there were too many disputed facts in the appeal.

"The findings (of the previous KL family court) over jurisdiction and domicile are set aside, and are to be remitted to a new judge for a full trial," said Justice David on Tuesday.

Last December, High Court judge Noraini Abdul Rahman had ruled that Khoo could file his divorce petition in Malaysia.

This means the question of whether the divorce would be heard in Malaysia or England needs to be settled again.

The panel chaired by Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, which also included Justice Mah Weng Kwai, unanimously dismissed Chai's application to stay a High Court order, which allowed Khoo to do away with meeting a conciliatory body in London to save the couple's marriage.

The three-man panel made no order as to costs.

Khoo's lawyer W.N. Foo had argued that the Malaysian court has jurisdiction to decide on the matter, as the bulk of Khoo's properties and businesses were based in the country.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday noted that Khoo remains a Malaysian citizen and resides in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.

However, Chai's counsel K. Shanmuga submitted that his client is no longer domiciled in Malaysia, having lived in England since the 1980's, thus only the English Court should have jurisdiction.

It had been reported that Chai stood to get less in matrimonial properties and other benefits if the matter was decided according to Malaysian law.

If the divorce was decided in Chai's favour in the English courts, she could get half of Khoo's £500mil (RM2.75bil) fortune.

British tabloid, the Daily Mail, last year reported that Chai filed a divorce petition in London on grounds of "unreasonable behaviour" against Malaysia's 36th wealthiest man, according to the Forbes 2013 list of Malaysia's richest.

Chai and Khoo married in 1970 and have five grown-up children.