judge says mistresses have rights too

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15, 2007 (AFP) – A Malaysian appeals court declared in a landmark ruling that mistresses have rights and should not be treated as mere chattel, news reports said Friday.

Judge Gopal Sri Ram overturned a previous court decision which had allowed a Singaporean tycoon, Goh Koon Suan, to reclaim a house that he had given to his mistress Heng Gek Kiau when they were lovers, The Star daily said.

Sri Ram said the decision was “ground breaking” as this was the first time a court of law has ruled that a mistress has rights.

“Do you think in this day and age we should apply principles relevant to society, which treat women as chattels? It would be a retrogressive step,” Sri Ram said according to the newspapers.

Goh, a 73-year old businessman from neighbouring Singapore met Heng, 56, almost 40 years ago and bought her a house in southern Johor state in 1980.

According to New Straits Times daily, Goh later demanded the house back after the relationship soured in 1988.

A Malaysian High Court ruled in his favour on grounds that Heng had merely held the house in trust for him.

“You squeezed her like a lemon and later cast her aside like an old shoe,” Sri Ram said after overturning the high court’s decision.

“Surely, you cannot use her like that and later claim she has no right,” he said, according to the newspapers.

Goh met Heng when she was a 16-year old babysitter from Indonesia. She and Goh have a son together.

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