Perlis eases law on polygamy


  • Nation
  • Friday, 03 Jan 2003

BY IAN MCINTYRE

PADANG BESAR: Perlis has no choice but to ease regulations on polygamy to deter married Muslims from flocking to southern Thailand to marry again, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim. 

He said the religious and government authorities did not give any feedback on the issue and so the state had decided to make it easier for Muslim men to tie the knot in Perlis instead of Thailand. 

“Polygamy is allowed under Islamic Law (Hukum Syarak) and it must be respected despite protests from certain women's rights groups,” he added.  

On Wednesday, state mufti Datuk Mat Jahya Husein said the state religious authorities had eased the guidelines for polygamy. He was quoted as saying that the move meant that Muslim men, who planned to marry for the second time, need not seek the consent of their first wives to do so. 

Shahidan said yesterday that if such marriages were conducted locally, the marriage registrar here could check the husbands’ background to ensure that they were financially capable.  

In Thailand, couples need only to perform the marriage rites and are not subjected to a detailed background check.  

Shahidan said such marriages could be abused and the family institution threatened. 

“It does not mean that by allowing couples to marry in Perlis, we encourage polygamy. Rather, we want to advocate the paramount importance of a harmonious family.  

“We support the Women Development and Family Ministry’s move to ensure that the family remains intact,” he added. 

Shahidan said while he respected the viewpoint of women groups, there must be a balanced approach towards resolving the matter instead of resorting to “an emotional barrage of criticism”. 

“There is no alternative,” he said after witnessing the presentation of school equipment to 230 poor schoolchildren here under the MCA Langkawi project.  

In a related development Sena assemblyman Azihani Datuk Ali appealed to Muslim women not to be emotional, when discussing issues of polygamy.  

Azihani, who is the state Wanita Umno deputy chairman, also urged all parties not to sensationalise or politicise the issue. 

She also urged Muslim men not to abuse the provision introduced by the Perlis government. 

State Wanita Umno chairman Mastika Junaidah Hussin said women were more concerned about the provision’s implementation and urged the state to conduct proper background checks before sanctioning polygamy.  

Perlis PAS commissioner Hashim Jasin, who is also Sanglang assemblyman, echoed the same concern but added that the proposed measures to allow polygamy was in line with Islamic law.  

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