KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Laura Ashley major shareholder Khoo Kay Peng has described his former beauty queen wife Pauline Chai Siew Phin as being a difficult woman.
"She is a very, very difficult and bad-tempered lady. She will yell and shout at very small things," he said.
Tan Sri Khoo also claimed that Ms Chai and their children were like enemies towards each other for a period of time in which they did not talk to one another.
"One of our daughters came up to me and complained that her mother said she was fat and ugly," he said.
Asked by his counsel Cyrus Das during re-examination at the High Court yesterday whether he had hoped for a reconciliation, Mr Khoo replied that "too much water had flowed under the bridge".
"It is impossible for us to reconcile. She did not talk about overcoming our marital problem," he said.
He said that he knew now who the real person Ms Chai, 67, was after 43 years of marriage.
Mr Khoo was giving his testimony to determine a preliminary issue of whether a Malaysian court had the jurisdiction to hear Mr Khoo's divorce petition. He made an application to dispense of the need to go before a reconciliation body as required under the Law Reform Marriage and Divorce Act.
Asked by Datuk Das about the last time his family had stayed together as a "complete" unit, he replied: "The real home has always been Kuala Lumpur. I would say Kuala Lumpur is the actual home."
Mr Khoo, 75, who currently resides here, has five children with Ms Chai, aged between 28 and 43.
He said his houses in Australia, Canada and Singapore were owned by his company.
Earlier, during cross-examination by Ms Chai's counsel Edmund Bon, Mr Khoo acknowledged that he bought Rossway Park Estate in Hertfordshire, England, in 2000.
To a question by Mr Bon whether it was comfortable for his family to be in England, he said it was a country where he had business dealings and where his children were studying.
The hearing will decide the jurisdiction of his divorce case which has made headlines with news about Ms Chai's 1,000 pairs of shoes and chauffeured rides in a Rolls-Royce.
Both Mr Khoo and Ms Chai were accompanied by their respective bodyguards yesterday. Their daughter Angeline Francis, 31, was also present.
Ms Chai wanted the British court to decide on the divorce proceedings as she said she was no longer living in Malaysia since 1980 and that she was residing in Britain now.
Last year, she filed for a divorce petition in a London court, seeking a £500 million (S$1.03 billion) settlement.
Mr Khoo, on his part, filed a divorce petition in a Malaysian court.
Press reports indicated that Ms Chai would get a smaller portion in matrimonial assets if the matter was decided according to Malaysian law.
If the divorce case is heard in Britain, she would be entitled to half of the fortune of Mr Khoo, whom Forbes listed as one of Malaysia's 50 richest men.
Last month, a London court ruled that it could hear the divorce case.
The hearing before High Court judge Justice Yeoh Wee Siam continues tomorrow.