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Pakatan expresses concern about Kedah's new polygamous laws

PETALING JAYA: Kedah's new law to legalise polygamous marriages of Muslim husbands without the consent of the first wives will encourage men who are not financially stable to pursue such marriages, said Pakatan Harapan.
Its Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin (pix) said some men would take advantage of the law by neglecting the welfare and the needs of the wives.
Zuraida, who is also Wanita PKR chief, said the consent of the wives is crucial to ensure their welfare is protected as they are more aware of their husbands' financial capabilities.
"The first wives need to testify at the Syariah Court so the judge would know whether their husbands are eligible to marry again.
"Without the first wives' consent, this would not be fair to them or the second wives when the husband clearly could not provide for the both of them," she told a press conference at PKR headquarters on Monday.
Last week, the Kedah government said the first wives would be informed if their Muslim husbands marry again out of the country, but their consent or approval 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 on returning.
The programme is expected to start next month.
The state is also working on reducing the fine for failing to register the marriages to between RM300 and RM400, compared with RM3,000 currently.
Parti Amanah Negara Wanita chief Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, however, said reducing the fine would only increase the cases of illegal marriages.
"Some men prefer shortcuts. They would get married in Thailand without having to go through the hassle here and come back and easily pay the fine.
"Does this mean that the state is encouraging such marriages to take place?" she asked.
Zuraida said although polygamy is allowed in Islam, Muslim men cannot claim this is their right as it is only permitted conditionally.
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