KUALA LUMPUR (NST) – The Malaysian High Court ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the billion-ringgit divorce proceeding between tycoon, Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng against his wife, former Miss Malaysia Puan Sri Pauline Chai Siew Phin.
High Court judge Datuk Yeoh Wee Siam in allowing Khoo’s application said based on the common law rule, the wife’s domicile is dependent on where the husband is also domiciled.
“Since it is indisputable that the husband’s domicile is in Malaysia, even if the wife is no longer a Malaysian citizen now, she is also domiciled in Malaysia.
“Therefore, the court is clearly the appropriate forum to hear this matter,” she said in judgment yesterday.
Yeoh explained that unlike England and Singapore, there had been no legislation enacted in Malaysia to abolish the common law rule governing a wife’s domicile as being dependent on her husband’s place of domicile.
The court also found that the former Miss Malaysia 1969 had failed to establish that she had acquired an English domicile as she was there on a renewable six-month visitor’s or tourist pass.
Yeoh also exempted the couple from going through a matrimonial conciliatory body as the marriage had irretrievably broken down.
She fixed RM15,000 in costs.
On Oct 17, Chai, 68, had successfully argued for the case to heard in a British court as she claimed that she had not domiciled in Malaysia since 1980.
However, Khoo, 75, the non-executive chairman of fashion brand Laura Ashley, applied for the case to be heard in Malaysia saying that he is an official resident and they were married here.
On Feb 14 last year, Chai filed the divorce petition in a London court, on grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
She is seeking a 500 million pounds in (approximately RM2.75 billion) settlement.
However, Khoo filed his divorce petition at the Malaysian High Court last Dec and argued for the case to be heard here.
The High Court verdict on December 11, last year, ruled in Khoo’s favour.
The couple were married in 1970 and they have five children.
Khoo was represented by Datuk Cyrus Das while Chai was represented by Edmund Bon.