1,000 pairs of shoes figure in divorce hearing

In a bid to have her divorce heard in Britain, Ms Pauline Chai, the estranged wife of Malaysian business tycoon Khoo Kay Peng, has told the High Court that she keeps 700 of her 1,000 pairs of shoes in her £30 million (S$61 million) Hertfordshire mansion.

"I have more than 1,000 pairs of shoes from 43 years. I have accumulated them, I never dispose of them," Ms Chai, 67, was cited by the Telegraph as saying.

Ms Chai, who was crowned Miss Malaysia 1969, was giving evidence last Friday to prove that the couple settled permanently in Hertfordshire in 2009 and she was therefore entitled to file her divorce petition in the country.

Dr Khoo, 75, is contesting Britain's jurisdiction and has filed his own divorce petition in their native Malaysia. Neither of them is a British citizen. They have five adult children together.

Ms Chai's claim is estimated at £200 million and if successful, is potentially Britain's largest divorce settlement.

It is believed that she filed her petition in London - reputedly the divorce capital of the world - because divorce settlements are based on an equal distribution of matrimonial assets here.

She could be entitled to less under Malaysian law, which divides matrimonial assets according to a spouse's contribution to their acquisition, either directly via payments or indirectly by raising the children and taking care of the home.

The couple lived a lavish lifestyle during their 43-year marriage, with luxury staffed homes also 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 costing £60,000 each.

According to the Telegraph, when challenged by Dr Khoo's lawyers that she also had an extensive collection of clothes, shoes and handbags in her Kuala Lumpur home, Ms Chai responded: "When you have houses all over the world and you travel so much, (you have some at each house) so you don't have to carry it all along with you."

Dr Khoo is ranked 42nd on Malaysia's 50 richest list by US magazine Forbes. According to Forbes, his net worth as at February this year is £190 million, though it is speculated his worth is closer to £500 million.

He is 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.

Ms Chai also told the court last Thursday that she had ordered a padded toilet seat for her husband as he had backache from spending hours reading and working while sitting on the toilet daily.

The Daily Mail reported that Ms Chai's lawyer Richard Todd QC said last Friday she lived on a "beautiful English estate", had a taste for English TV shows and valued what was "quintessentially" English.

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