Finally back together: Malaysian prince meets long-lost Australian mother
Published: August 25, 2006 | 4649th good news item since 2003
A MOTHER, son and daughter separated by one of Australia’s most notorious custody battles embraced in a Melbourne garden today – all together for the first time in 14 years.
Jacqueline Pascarl was rejoicing at the surprise arrival in Australia of her 23-year-old son, Iddin.
He was following in the footsteps of his sister Shahirah, 21, who was reunited with her mother in April and now lives permanently with her in Melbourne.
Iddin, then nine, and Shahirah, seven, were snatched from their mother in 1992 during an access visit to Australia by their father, Malaysian prince Raja Bahrin.
Then known as Jacqueline Gillespie, Ms Pascarl fought a protracted and unsuccessful battle with her former husband for her children’s return.
She secretly rekindled her relationship with them through emails and phone calls and finally, in April, Shahirah travelled from Malaysia to be with her mother.
Today, Iddin also held his mother and told reporters:”I’ve got two homes now.”
Asked why he had returned to Melbourne, he said: “Because I want to see my mum. I miss her a lot. I love her a lot.”
Iddin indicated he would stay in Melbourne “a really, really long time” but did not say if he intended to stay permanently.
“Well, he’s had 14 years to think about this,” Ms Pascarl smiled.
“Australia is his home, too.”
Ms Pascarl, who has two other children from a later marriage, said Shahirah and Iddin had surprised her with Iddin’s arrival in Melbourne.
“It’s absolutely blissful and wonderful,” Ms Pascarl said as the three stood arm in arm outside her home in suburban Hawthorn today.
“I have four beautiful, unique and amazingly individual children and a wonderful husband and we are overjoyed to be together as a family for the first time in 14 years,” Ms Pascarl said.
“We need to get to know each other and they (Iddin and Shahirah) need to get to know me, and they need to get to know themselves, which is really important.
“I’m just so overjoyed that my children are at home together and they’re here with me, and we are happy.
“We want to thank everyone for your support and the generous good wishes all through the years, and the people who have just sort of stuck in there with us.”
Ms Pascarl married Raja Bahrin in 1980 and Iddin and Shahirah were born in Malaysia.
She returned to Australia with the children after the prince took a second wife under Islamic law.
He abducted Iddin and Shahirah in 1992, driving them to Queensland, where they were smuggled by boat to Indonesia and then Malaysia.
Ms Pascarl was married to former journalist Iain Gillespie but the couple separated in 2000, after 10 years of marriage.
She later married Bill Cocaris, a former schoolfriend.