Judge rejects ex-Miss Malaysia Pauline Chai's claim for $171,000 a month maintenance from hubby

LONDON - A judge has rejected a former Miss Malaysia's claims for interim maintenance of £85,000 (S$171,000) a month from her estranged husband, reports said.

Pauline Chai, 68, is seeking to divorce her husband of 45 years, Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng, 76.

She asked for the amount to cover "needs" including the cost of first-class flights, suites at five-star hotels and chauffeurs while the divorce case is being heard.

Dr Khoo's lawyers called the figure "staggering", The Telegraph reported.

Justice Roberts awarded Chai £45,000 a month instead. She rejected claims that Chai has been frugal since she separated from her husband.

Her lawyers said that Chai had to stop her physiotherapy treatment, and has stopped going on holidays.

She now cuts and dyes her own hair as she is unable to afford her hairdresser's fees of £450 a month. She also could not continue with her hobby of renovating doll houses, they said

"I am unable to accept the picture which she paints of a somewhat frugal existence. I view the sums claimed as being in excess of what she is likely to spend while she is so deeply enmeshed in this on-going litigation," The Daily Mail said, quoting Roberts.

Many details of the couple's lavish lifestyle have been made public since the case began.

They have luxury homes in Kuala Lumpur, Canada and Australia.

In Britain, they live in separate mansions at Rossway Park, a sprawling 405ha estate in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, guarded by Gurkhas and containing some llamas, alpacas and two man-made lakes.

The couple have been tussling over where the case should be heard - Britain or Malaysia.

Dr Khoo said he is based in Malaysia, while Chai claims that she was no longer living in Malaysia since 1980 and was residing in Britain now. She has Canadian and Australian citizenship, and has renounced her Malaysian citizenship.

If the divorce case is heard in Britain, she would be entitled to half of the fortune of Mr Khoo. The claim, if successful, could be Britain's largest divorce settlement.

A Malaysia court would divide matrimonial assets according to a spouse's contributions, either directly via payments or indirectly, by raising the children and taking care of the home.

Last October, Chai said in court that she kept 700 pairs of her 1,000 pairs of shoes in Hertfordshire, England, to support her claim that their divorce case should be heard in London.

Dr Khoo succeeded in getting the Malaysian court to hear divorce proceedings in November last year, contradicting a London court's earlier ruling that it could hear the case.

He is the chairman of Malayan United Industries (MUI), an investment holding company with substantial stakes in lifestyle brand Laura Ashley UK and the Corus group of hotels, 10 of which are in Britain.

His net worth is valued by Forbes at S$390 million as of February last year. The couple married in 1970 and have five children.

She has accused him of being violent, and "very controlling", rationing her food and forbidding her from leaving their house without his permission.

He has said she is a "very bad-tempered" woman, who has "never worked a day in her life".