Light penalties reason why many go to Thailand for polygamy, says don

Anne Muhammad


January 16, 2023whatsapp sharing button

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The Narathiwat Islamic religious council says about half of the Malaysians who travel there to marry another wife are men with Datukships. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Couples who tie the knot in Thailand for polygamy do so because they want to be in right standing with the religion but take Malaysian laws lightly since the punishment is light, says an academic.

Noraini Hashim, a civil and Islamic family law expert at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, said the rise in polygamous marriages in southern Thailand among Malaysians showed that they did not care about the legal way to do it here.

She cited the Federal Territories’ Islamic law as an example, which sets a fine of not more than RM1,000 or a maximum jail sentence of six months, or both, if convicted of marrying abroad without registering with the state’s religious council.

The punishment for the offence is the same in Kelantan.

“These couples have done their homework, so they know how to ensure that the marriage fulfills religious laws,” Noraini told FMT.

“The solemnisation of the marriage will be conducted by someone recognised by the Islamic religious council of Narathiwat, Patani, Satun, Songkhla and Yala in Thailand.

“The couple will then register their marriage again with the relevant authorities when they return to Malaysia.”

It was recently reported that demand for marriages in Thailand had doubled in the past year. Meanwhile, the Narathiwat Islamic religious council said about half of Malaysians who travelled there to take another wife involved men with Datukships.

Following these reports, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said it did not recognise any marriage of local couples conducted abroad if they were not registered with the state Islamic religious department (Jais).

Noraini said applications for polygamy in Malaysia required a shariah court judge’s permission, who will decide after considering the reason, income and dependents of the applicant, in determining his ability to have another wife.

The court also needs to ensure the applicant is capable of offering fair treatment to all his wives, to ensure the rights of each spouse.

“If the new wife or existing wives do not approve or are dissatisfied with the court’s decision, they can appeal,” she said.

She also said couples who want to marry in Malaysia have to fulfill certain conditions, such as going through marriage courses, HIV screenings and obtaining a marriage registrar’s permission.

On top of that, marrying in Thailand allows couples to spend less on the engagement, marriage dowry and wedding feast, which Noraini said were deemed to be burdensome for these newlyweds.

She called for religious authorities to take stronger action against couples who tie the knot in Thailand, such as making them do community work.


Categories: The Muslim Times

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