PARLIAMENTARIANS expressed concern over possible loopholes in the proposals to amend and standardise the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill during the debate.
They also questioned the light penalty against husbands who failed to fulfil their obligations before marrying again.
Fong Po Kuan (DAP – Batu Gajah) expressed concern that matrimonial assets would only be distributed to first wives after they applied for it.
She argued that the assets should be distributed without having the first wives applying for it and the court approving it.
“Husbands should not be allowed to enter into another marriage unless they have fulfilled the court order to distribute the assets to their first wives,” she said.
Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman (BN – Labuan) wanted as assurance that husbands whose applications to take second wives were rejected would not be able to appeal.
“Can husbands appeal against court decisions so that they would be allowed to practise polygamy? What will the public perception be if their appeals are accepted?” he asked.
Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad (BN – Ketereh) was concerned over custody, alimony and asset distribution cases which were decided at Syariah courts involving Muslim converts who later reverted to their original religions after they divorced.
He asked if such cases could be challenged in the civil courts.
Mohd Alwi said marriage according to Islam was about bearing children and ensuring there would be a happy family institution.
However, marriage, according to Western value, was the search for love.
“Why is TV3 airing Mencari Cinta? The minister in charge should advise TV3 to stop airing Mencari Cinta. Why do we have a programme that emulates Western values?” he asked.
Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN – Jasin) urged the Government to be firm with state governments so that they would accept the proposal to amend and streamline the law.
He called for a review of the penalty not exceeding RM1,000 or a jail term not exceeding six months or both, saying that it was too light.
Such a penalty, he said, would not serve as a deterrent to husbands who intend to take second wives despite being irresponsible towards their first wives and children.
Ahmad Shabery Cheek (BN – Kemaman) said men who could not afford to pay alimony to first wives and children should be jailed and declared bankrupt.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin, in winding up the Bill, said the law ensured justice not only for wives but also their husbands.
However, he said first wives should know their rights, adding that they should apply to the Syariah court which had the power to determine the distribution of matrimonial assets and alimony.
Commenting on the apparently poor administration of Syariah courts, he said most state governments had increased the number of judges and counsellors.
He said so far eight state governments had approved and enforced the law while four others were in the process of streamlining the law.
The eight are Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perak, Sabah, Sarawak, Malacca, Kelantan and Selangor while the four are Federal Territory, Pahang, Terengganu and Kedah.
Perlis and Penang had approved it but had yet to enforce it, he said.
The Bill was passed.