Ex-beauty queen's divorce battle ends

Ms Chai, a former Miss Malaysia, had also asked for £135,000 (S$242,000) a year to cover first-class flights, suites at five-star hotels and chauffeurs from Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng.
Ms Chai, a former Miss Malaysia, had also asked for £135,000 (S$242,000) a year to cover first-class flights, suites at five-star hotels and chauffeurs from Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

LONDON • A four-year divorce case between former Miss Malaysia Pauline Chai and her Malaysian tycoon husband Khoo Kay Peng is over.

Britain's Mail Online reported on Thursday that a family judge signalled the end of the marriage by granting a decree nisi with both sides having racked up £6 million (S$10.7 million) in legal fees between them - one of the most expensive divorce cases to come before the British courts.

Ms Chai, 70, had wanted the divorce to be decided in the United Kingdom, where she stood to receive 50 per cent of the assets of Tan Sri Khoo, 78. The latter tried to have the case heard in Malaysia, where Ms Chai, the Miss Malaysia 1969 winner, would likely have been awarded much less.

The amount that Ms Chai is asking for as a payout will be agreed later in the year.

  • £6m Legal costs racked up by both parties.

    £85k What Ms Chai wanted in monthly payments from her husband.

    £50k The bar set by the British court for the monthly sum.

"Today's grant of decree absolute brings an end to a process set in motion nearly four years ago," solicitor Ayesha Vardag, who represents Ms Chai, was quoted by Mail Online as saying on Thursday. "Ms Chai feels a great sense of relief that she can now move on with her life, with her faith in the fairness of the English legal system affirmed once again."

She had asked for £85,000 a month from her estranged husband, who lives in Malaysia.

There is also a payment of £135,000 a year that she wanted to cover first-class flights, suites at five-star hotels and chauffeurs, Mail Online reported.

A judge later said that was too much and set the bar at £50,000 a month, the report added.

The case drew international attention, previous media reports say, over both the possible sum of the settlement - up to half of Mr Khoo's fortune - and the battle that he and Ms Chai fought to have the case heard in one of two jurisdictions.

A UK court had decided that the case could proceed in the country, despite a Malaysian High Court ruling that the case should be heard in Malaysia.

Miss Vardag previously claimed that Mr Khoo is worth more than £440 million, while he has maintained that he has only £66 million in assets.

The tycoon and Ms Chai had been married for some 43 years when she filed for divorce in Britain on Feb 14, 2013. They have five children.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-beauty queen's divorce battle ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe