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Kedah will inform wives of spouse's polygamy abroad

ALOR SETAR: The state will inform first wives if their Muslim husbands marry again out of the country, but their consent will not be needed for those marriages to be legalised.

This is part of the state's legalisation programme for Kedah Muslim men who tied the knot in Thailand or other countries and did not register their union upon returning.

The programme, expected to start next month, will see such marriages legalised, even if the men are already married here.

Kedah is also working on reducing the fine for failing to register the marriages to between RM300 (S$95) and RM400, compared with the current RM3,000, said state Religious Affairs Committee chairman Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid.

He said the move is to solve problems, not promote illicit marriages.

"For their children, they will have problems with education, rights to public healthcare and citizenship.

"The spouses themselves will face difficulties, especially making claims when one of them dies or when they divorce," he told the state assembly yesterday.

He added that the programme is similar to Selangor's "Jom Daftar Nikah" programme.

Launched last year, it saw 1,938 illegal marriages solemnised by the state.

It was reported that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department found cases of couples not legalising their marriages until they became grandparents.

Mr Mohd Rawi stressed that Kedah's objective is to protect the future of the subsequent wives and children.

He said emphasis will be given to couples with children who have not registered their marriages.

He added that a booklet to create public awareness on the necessity of registering marriages had been published and distributed. It also educates married couples on the complexities they face when their marriages are not solemnised in Malaysia.

"We have discussed this with several departments, including the state Islamic Religious Affairs Department and the Syariah courts," he said. - THE STAR

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