‘No need for alimony as Bekir paid for ex-wife’s house, cars’

Lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar for Mahmud Abu Bekir Abdul Taib told the Syariah High Court today that his client had already paid for his former wife Shahnaz A Majid’s house and cars, hence there was no need for him to pay alimony.

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He said the purpose of mutaah (gift or alimony following a Muslim divorce) is to allow the ex-spouse to begin a new life.

“As in this case, he had been paying for her maintenance fees for 11 years despite not staying together and paid for the bungalow and cars.

“Hence, there is no need for further money to be paid to the plaintiff as she has begun a new life with the property and assets,” said the lawyer.

Shahnaz’s testimony said she was left with an old Mercedes-Benz and a Land Rover bought for their son which does not run anymore.

Zainul Rijal also questioned the veracity of the evaluation done by chartered accountant Andrew Heng. from the firm Ferrier Hodgson, as it came with many disclaimers as portrayed in the documents submitted as evidence.

“The evaluation done by Heng is not for this mutaah (alimony) claim but for another case (the joint matrimonial asset claim). The document is not signed by Heng and this creates doubt over the authenticity of the valuation.

“Furthermore we notice that Heng or his firm had not complied with Malaysian standards imposed on submitting valuation documents, such as submitting photos of the places of the valuation, maps of the property being evaluated, or certification from the local council.

“”There is also testimony from the witness (Heng) that he did not go to the sites (the lands claimed to be owned by Bekir). These documents are vital to ensure that valuation done is according to the proper standards of practice and hence this has created doubts in the case,” he said.

Heng’s reports stated that hundreds of hectares are owned by Bekir including palm oil plantations, but the defendant testified that some of the land cannot be cultivated and are left idle while some are swamp land.

Zainul Rijal added the burden of proof lied with the plaintiff, Shahnaz, and with such evidence tendered, the court should consider that there is nothing before it.

He was making a submission on Shahnaz’s claim of RM100 million for mutaah (gift following divorce) or alimony.

Bekir and Shahnaz married in Jan 1992 and officially divorced on May 11, 2011. They had not stayed together since 1999.

No proof of foreign accounts

Furthermore, Zainul Rijal said although Shahnaz had claimed her former husband possessed more than 150 bank accounts overseas including in the Caribbean, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, she had failed to provide evidence.

“She failed to show proof of the presence of these accounts as claimed and as such her testimony and claims on these accounts should be rejected.”

Zainul Rijal further cited an authority that Shahnaz had to prove that her claim of RM100 million was warranted but she had not done so following questions surrounding the evaluation report.

He cited the case involving Najib Abdul Razak, when he was youth and sports minister and his ex-wife Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar, who had sought RM5 million in mutaah during the early 1990s.

“Najib was willing to offer RM36,000 and in the end the court did not grant her claim of RM5 million,” he said.

According to the case, Tengku Puteri Zainah’s lawyer had sought for a discovery of documents as in the current Shahnaz vs Bekir case but this was not allowed by the Syariah Court then.

Bekir’s lawyer further cited Middle East authorities which said that mutaah can be paid at the price of 30 dirhams which is the sufficient amount according to Islamic jurisprudence.

Syariah Court judge Mohamad Abdul Karim Wahab fixed Dec 22 for Zainul Rijal to finish his submission and following this, the reply by Shahnaz’s lawyers.

Shahnaz’s lawyers had in their submission this morning said her claim of RM100 million for alimony was not absurd and excessive as they had shown evidence as to the worth of her former husband.

Mohamad Abdul Karim then fixed Jan 28 to deliver his decision on the long-standing dispute.

Besides her RM100 million claim for mutaah, Shahnaz – who holds an MBA – is also claiming another RM400 millionin joint matrimonial assets and another RM121 million for their only child’s for education and maintenance.

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