Furore over polygamy remark


  • Nation
  • Friday, 05 Dec 2003

BY NICK LEONG

PETALING JAYA: A proposal by a Terengganu PAS assemblyman that the state government promote polygamy to help single mothers has drawn the ire of women leaders.  

Wanita Umno religious bureau chairman Zaleha Hussin said the proposal by Satiful Bahari Mamat, state assemblyman for Paka, reflected the mentality and backwardness of PAS leaders. 

She said polygamy would not necessarily solve single mothers' financial problems.  

“It could, in fact, make matters worse if the husband is deceitful and irresponsible.” 

Satiful had during a debate on the Terengganu state Budget said that the state should promote polygamy instead of computer literacy among single mothers who were facing financial hardship. 

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said she was not surprised with the statement made by Satiful, saying it was “representative of the kind of mentality among PAS leaders”. 

“PAS is an orthodox party that is bent on turning Malaysia into Afghanistan under the Taliban regime if the party wins in the next general election,'' she said. 

“PAS leaders have no respect for women, including its own party leaders. They are just there for window dressing and women are merely regarded as objects, thus the remark by the state assemblyman.”  

PAS Muslimat deputy chief Dr Lo' Lo' Ghazali said she could not understand why her colleague in Terengganu was so pre-occupied with polygamy. 

“Single mothers should be given the choice to choose whether to remarry or remain single. If they wish to remain single, we should teach skills so they could support themselves and their children,” she said. 

Parti Keadilan Nasional Wanita deputy chief Irene Fernandez said PAS should respect women as adults with the capability to make decisions regarding their marital status. 

“What is asked by single mothers from society is the creation of an environment whereby they can access various opportunities and facilities in the way they want to live.” 

She said single mothers should not be seen as opportunities for men to have more wives or to practise polygamy. 

DAP deputy secretary-general Chong Eng said PAS should create a welfare mechanism to help single mothers if the party was sincere. 

She said polygamy could create more social problems especially if the husband's motives were ignoble. 

“It could cause a lot of problems because it could wreck families, resulting in children being neglected,” she said.  

Meanwhile, PAS Youth chief Salahudin Ayub said Islam allowed polygamy. 

“It is seen not only as a way for men to take more than one wife but also a method of dispensing justice,” he said.  

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