Shahnaz A Majid, a former daughter-in-law of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, has testified to physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her then husband Mahmud Abu Bekir.
She told the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court today of incidents at their home in Sydney and at their three-storey mansion next to the chief minister's official residence in Kuching, Sarawak.
Shahnaz, 49, the elder sister of jazz queen Sheila Majid, said Mahmud was short-tempered and would subject her to abuse without much reason or due to minor differences of opinion.
"In July 1992, a few months after we were married and living in our Sydney home ..., he attacked me by slapping me and punching me on the face. I can’t remember why he resorted to violence as we did not quarrel over a big issue,” she said in between sobs during her testimony.
Two years later, when they were living in the mansion in Kuching, “which was big as an old museum”, she was assaulted again.
Replying lawyer Akbardin Abdul Kader, she said they occupied the third floor of the building.
"As the floors below were not locked and people were coming in and out, I decided to lock the door to my room as I was about to take a shower.
"As I was taking a shower, I heard loud noise outside the room as if someone was trying to break down the door. I opened the door and my husband barged in, asking why I had locked the door. He punched me on my chest and kicked my stomach, and I fell down.
"All this, because he forgot to bring his keys and the room was locked. He could have asked for the master key at his father's house. He was very violent and he struck and kicked me hard. I can never forget the incident. I also cannot prevent such attacks as he is big and strong."
Shahnaz was continuing her testimony since March, as there has been no settlement of her claim to RM300 million in joint matrimonial assets and RM100 million mutaah (gift) following her divorce.
Usually in divorce proceedings the extent of the injury and suffering is used to determine the quantum of the compensation. According to an NGO report, Mahmud is said to be worth US$1.5 billion.
Mahmud was not present during today's proceeding as he is presently in the United Kingdom attending to his Russian wife who is hospitalised.
‘Taib knew of son’s assault’
Shahnaz further described two other incidents in 1995 and 1996 where she was also abused.
Sometime in 1995, she said Mahmud dragged her and pulled her arms to the bathroom of their bedroom where she was placed in a bathtub all because she explained her reason for disagreeing on some issues.
“I was explaining my position and it is not that we are arguing. My husband is such that when you say A, it is A there are no B or Cs and he would fight on a smallest excuse. I suffered bruises as he dragged me and pulled my arms. I tried to resist but he was big and strong.
“I related the incident to my sister-in-law Hanifah and showed the bruises to my arms and legs. She advised me to be patient and she would relate the matter to my father-in-law,” said Shahnaz, adding later she came to know that Abdul Taib had then advised Mahmud.
However, she said her husband did not apologise for the abuse and it did not stop there as in 1996, he again pushed her and punched her at the back of her head.
This, Shahnaz said, resulted in her falling on the carpet, face down.
‘I am not unfaithful...’
Asked by her lawyer Akbardin as to the reasons of the abuses or whether she was unfaithful, Shahnaz replied no.
“I live in his home state and next to my father-in-law’s house. How can I....(do such a thing).”
Shahnaz’s other lawyer Rafie Mohd Shafie applied to the court for a warrant of arrest to be issued on Mahmud for not attending today’s proceeding as this was not the first time. However, the chief minister’s son’s lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar objected that his client was unable to make it with a valid reason.
Akbardin submitted that this was not the first time, as during past proceedings Judge Mohamad Abdullah had given a stern last warning that the court would not hesitate to issue the warrant of arrest.
Zainul Rijal, who was assisted by co-counsel Saadiah Din, said his client will only be back on Oct 5, and that he was willing to get the necessary documents to show why he was unable to come home as his wife is hospitalised in the United Kingdom.
The couple was divorced in May 2011 after Mahmud pronounced talak satu (proclamation of divorce).
Rafie told the court that he may question Shahnaz on the assets at the next proceeding. Hearing will continue on Wednesday.