Beauty Pageant Winner Seeks Complicated International Divorce

Months after 1969’s Miss Malaysia, Pauline Chai, issued a divorce petition to split from her husband, 74-year-old Malaysian businessman Dr. Khoo Kay Peng, Chai is issuing a second petition to have the case heard in England. Although Chai has been living on the family’s 1,000 acre Hertfordshire home since October, Dr. Khoo wants the hearing to be in Malaysia, their original home, where he will have to part with far less than the £500 million settlement Chai could obtain in England.

Dr. Khoo’s representation called Chai’s petition “spurious” and threatened to involve the Attorney-General in the case to determine whether Chai’s divorce petitions violated divorce policy. Chai’s lawyers c Dr. Khoo’s argument an “old-fashioned grubby desire to be in the Jurisdiction where he thinks he can do better,” and labeled his attempt to settle the divorce in Malaysia a “classic case of forum shopping.”

Chai and Dr. Khoo have been married for 42 years, and have lived in homes in Kuala Lumpur and Canada. Their Hertfordshire residence includes a menagerie with alpacas and llamas, and two manmade lakes. Dr. Khoo, chairman of investment company Malaysia United Industries, also owns a number of luxury hotels in Britain.

According to the website of Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, international divorces are often more complicated than domestic divorces and can quickly get mired down in disputes such as Chai and Dr. Khoo’s. It is critical for couples to seek professional advice to prepare prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements that will apply in the countries in question. In addition, couples should review the location of assets and get advice to determine which country will have jurisdiction over the divorce.