By Hafiz Yatim
The Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court has instructed Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, the Sarawak chief minister’s son, to produce documents relating to his assets within seven days, for his divorce settlement case.
This is to facilitate the discovery of the assets owned by the couple.
In making the decision today, judge Mohamad Abdullah struck out the preliminary objection by Mahmud Abu Bekir’s lawyer to strike out the former wife’s application for discovery and in turn wanted her to produce the documents of discovery of assets.
Although Mohamad did not disclose the time frame when Mahmud Abu Bekir have to disclose it, lawyers for the wife said when there are no orders it should be made within seven days.
With this, the Cahaya Mata Sarawak deputy chairperson will have to list his assets, to facilitate the matrimonial claims of his ex-wife Shahnaz A Majid.
Shahnaz is the sister of jazz songbird Sheila.
She has said that Mahmud Abu Bekir (left) has various assets in the form of shares and property locally and abroad, and has claimed assets and gift amounting to RM400 million.
Both Mahmud Abu Bekir and Shahnaz were in court for the proceedings. Shahnaz was represented by lawyers Dr Rafie Mohd Shafie and Akbardin Abdul Kader.
Mahmud Abu Bekir was represented by lawyers Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Din. Zainul Rijal indicated that they may file a review of today’s decision.
The couple were married for 19 years. Shahnaz initially filed her application for divorce and this was followed by Mahmud Abu Bekir.
However, in the end Mahmud Abu Bekir’s divorce application was heard and he uttered the divorce in court.
Their divorce was recorded before the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court on May 11, last year just after the Sarawak state elections.
As proceedings continued today, Shahnaz was the first to take the stand in her mutaah (gift) claim of RM100 million from her husband.
Shahnaz while taking the stand had broken down in tears several times in describing their rocky marriage where initially she described their marriage was good, when the couple got married on Jan 9, 1992.
The couple has a son aged 17 and born in December 1993.
As she continued with her testimony, Zainul Rijal objected to counsel Akbardin’s continued addressing of the title of ‘Datin Seri’ to Shahnaz.
“The couple are already divorced and this has been recorded by this court. Hence, she should not use the title,” said Zainul Rijal, who is also a council member of the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Council. After exchanges Akbardin agreed to refer to her client as ‘Puan’.
While she went into details on describing what caused her divorce, Shahnaz tried to compose her emotions and described how she was subjected to emotional and physical abuse.
Zainul Rijal and Saadiah again voiced their objection in her detailing her experience as this was not in the hearing pleadings and statement.
“We do not oppose to the mutaah application but the quantum of the gift,” said Zainul Rijal.
However, Rafie and Akbardin submitted that whatever the pleadings was just brief, and they have to extract evidence further from their client directly to prove the gravity of the abuses that she was subjected to and this will assist the court in deciding the quantum.
“Furthermore, we cannot put all this in the pleadings as it is normal in cases like this in civil or syariah court that such testimony is allowed to be entered further.
“In addition, what she is about to say is also in documents which we filed for her divorce application,” said Rafie.
“I find it quite odd as to defendent’s counsel protesting to the evidence. They have the time to cross-examine her,” added Akbardin.
The objection was made several times until Justice Mohamad ruled to dismiss Mahmud Abu Bekir’s objection and then allowed Shahnaz to continue on her testimony.
Shahnaz then described that her husband was unfaithful, a womaniser, and was not fair in practising polygamy. She went on to describe that Mahmud Abu Bekir has another wife, a Russian divorcee who already has two children.
“Initially our marriage was a happy one. However, things started to go wrong between 1994 and 1999.
“I was physically abused, and at one instance he punched me in the face resulting in both my eyes to be bruised. Also, at one point he kicked me in the ribs resulting in having difficulty to breathe.
“He would hurl verbal abuses at me calling me names,” she said.
She also said that at one point, in her sister-in-law’s wedding in 2000, Mahmud Abu Bekir brought an Australian woman with him to the wedding, resulting in her being sidelined at the event.
Matter related to Taib
Shahnaz also told the court that following the physical abuses, she related the matter to her father-in-law Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is the Sarawak chief minister, and her husband’s younger brother.
“I did not lodge any police or medical reports over the injuries or the physical abuses, as I did not want to affect his standing.
“However, deep down I was emotionally traumatised to be with him as he would continue to hurl abuses when he comes home. He would come home three times in a year.”
She said that since 2001, Mahmud Abu Bekir did not return home and for 10 years leading to their divorce he did not give ‘nafkah batin‘ (there was no sexual intercourse).
Shahnaz ended her testimony on the stand by saying she was confident that her former husband have the means to pay her mutaah claim.
The hearing continues tomorrow where Shahnaz is expected to describe the assets that Mahmud Abu Bekir and his family possess.
Justice Mohamad is also expected to make a ruling over the show-cause order that Shahnaz’s lawyer applied to be imposed on Mahmud Abu Bekir for not coming to court despite being asked to do so.