KUALA LUMPUR: A housewife, known only as Madam Tan, was left in the doldrums after her husband of over 10 years abandoned her for a younger woman from China.
With nowhere to turn to, she travelled from Batu Pahat to the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department in Jalan Ampang here yesterday, after learning that the department was conducting a workshop on the legality of customary marriages.
A housewife in her 40s and caring for five children between the ages of four and 14, Tan said her husband became involved with another woman after meeting her in a pub a year ago.
Tan's eldest daughter said her father started to assault her mother after she refused his request to marry the Chinese national.
“He tells mum that it is futile to resist his request as they had only conducted a customary rite and the marriage was not registered,” said the Form Two student, adding that her father was living with the woman.
Department head Michael Chong said 90% of the complainants who attended the workshop were women whose husbands had abandoned them for younger partners.
“The husbands think they can dump their wives anytime just because the marriage is not registered,” said Chong.
According to the department’s legal adviser Leong May Chan, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 stipulates that all marriages after March 1 1982 must be registered.
She said recent case laws had upheld the validity of unregistered marriages conducted through customary rites.
“As the case law stands today, marriages through customary rites which are not registered and solemnised in pursuant to the Act, can be recognised as a valid marriage but the burden lies on the person to prove it in court,'' she said.
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