Angeline Francis Khoo reveals it was all “about control” rather than money.
The daughter of the Laura Ashley chairman has revealed that her parents’ bitter £64 million (RM357 million) High Court divorce battle was “about control” rather than money.
Angeline Francis Khoo, 34, told The Telegraph that she was no longer on speaking terms with her father, tycoon Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, and had chosen to turn her back on the family business, as well as any financial support, in order to marry a man of whom he did not approve.
Khoo recounted how she met her husband, Caribbean-born data scientist Jedidiah Francis, while studying at Oxford, but that when she told her father she wanted to marry him, he refused to give her his blessing.
“I believed Dad’s stance was wrong, so there was no question about what was right,” she told the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine.
“I’ve been fortunate to have that perspective: you can have money and it’s a blessing; it allows you to do things and gives you options, but there are also things that come with it, such as control.
“Money amplifies negative characteristics and that can cause problems. To walk away from that was actually very easy. I didn’t even consider it,” Khoo said.
Until that point, Khoo had been destined to work for the family business. She said the plan had been “drilled” into her since she was a teenager and she spent semester breaks working in the different departments of Laura Ashley.
She claimed she had no idea about the scale of her 78-year-old father’s wealth until it was disclosed in court, when her mother, former Malaysian beauty queen Pauline Chai, 70, was eventually awarded one of the largest settlements in history.
“In these situations with so much money often people are, like, ‘I don’t get it. Why are they fighting over so much?’
“But it’s not really about the money, it’s about control and losing that control. That’s something that a lot of people can’t grasp because you’re discussing finances way beyond your basic needs,” Khoo said.
Chai, who was Miss Malaysia in 1969, had demanded half of her former husband’s £205 million fortune. She asserted she had made an equal contribution by fulfilling her role as a “traditional” wife during 42 years of marriage.
Apparently, he had wanted to give her just £9 million.
Khoo, who was the only witness called in her parents’ divorce, said it was “not a nice situation” and claimed that her mother, whom it was revealed in court owned 1,000 pairs of shoes, was actually quite frugal, choosing to dye her own hair rather than go to the salon.
She said that her father had not played an integral part in her childhood and that she and her four siblings only saw him once or twice a year when he was not on business.
Khoo has since established her own fashion business under the brand Rosie on Fire but says she hopes one day, that her father might “let go of his anger” so they could enjoy a cordial relationship.