The PAS-led government has advised Muslim men that they need not go to southern Thailand, but instead stop-off in Kelantan to get hitched. The state authorities have simplified the process of marriage for both single and married men.
Incredibly, the news about polygamy was delivered by Kelantan’s Family Development, Welfare and People’s Wellbeing committee chairperson Mumtaz Md Nawi. Is she unaware of the implications?
New marriage oath
The marriage oath is “Till death do us part”.
With Kelantan making it easy for men to enter into a polygamous marriage, newlyweds should realise that the new marriage oath will be “Till a younger woman comes along”.
In one fell swoop, the rights which Malay women have fought for, since the end of the 19th Century; like the right to an education, to be financially independent, to work, and equality with men, will be lost.
At one time, Muslim marriage laws offered some protection to women. PAS and the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (Jakim) have helped to dismantle this.
Yesterday’s Malay women were more courageous and were undaunted by the many challenges which life threw at them. Today’s Malay women are happy to be led by the nose.
The Malay women who have excelled in many fields will recoil at my remarks, but where are their voices to drown out those of the misogynists? Are they too proud to help their sisters who have no voice? Are they too selfish because they have made it good and their sisters have not? Are they too busy?
Look at recent events.
When a lorry driver was assaulted by a Datuk’s employees, the Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs Alliance of Malaysia (Ikhlas) came out to support him.
When two teenage girls were gang-raped by 30 men in Kelantan, where were the protests by ordinary women demanding a thorough investigation and justice? It is alleged that the case is now closed for lack of evidence. Really?
Will the Malays unite to voice their disgust at the Kelantan move? Hardly! The men won’t. The women can’t.
Mumtaz cited another reason for making polygamous marriages easy. She said, “This is to encourage the birth of more Muslim children. The Kelantan government will assist those men, who intend to have more children by taking second, third or fourth wives.”
‘Treating women as breeding machines’
Has PAS lost the plot? Women are not mere breeding machines.
Mumtaz claimed that Kelantan would encourage more women to produce excellent children. How?
Kelantan has the highest rates of incest, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, AIDS, and poverty. What excellence is she referring to?
Who is going to support these wives and children? The state? Should Najib Abdul Razak increase the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) allocation?
If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, most polygamous husbands earn less than RM4,000 per month. Many men live off their younger wives, who support their extended families and step-children. The man’s role is to flit from one marital bed to another.
As few men observe the strict guidelines on polygamy, which states that men should marry single mothers or widows, society will end up with more single mothers, when couples divorce.
Single mothers are ‘Ibu Tunggal’ in Malay. They struggle to survive because of the poor enforcement on syariah alimony and child maintenance. Their predicament has given birth to a new expression, ‘Ibu Tinggal’ (abandoned woman).
Why did Kelantan make this polygamous ruling and humiliate the first wives?
We are entering the run-up to GE14. PAS has lost its credibility and its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, has seemingly lost the support of PAS’ grassroots supporters. He may yet lose Kelantan and he realises he cannot depend on divine intervention to retain the state.
Polygamy is an election gimmick and money spinner
Enter the PAS spin doctors, to help woo voters.
The polygamous marriage offer is a commercial enterprise and a politically astute election gimmick to attract more Muslim voters. It is part of a creative PAS election manifesto.
This polygamous marriage deal has nothing to offer the holy sanctity of the union of a man and woman. It is about making money.
PAS wants prospective couples to spend their money in Kelantan instead of Thailand. The syariah court marriage fees may be negligible, but think of the money spent during the honeymoon.
There is one bizarre twist. Either spouse who commits adultery will be punished with hudud, which PAS hopes to implement in Kelantan.
In the past, the Malay husband who told his wife, “Dear, I’m going to Hadyai for a conference and to play golf,” would probably have been clobbered over the head with a frying pan, and have his passport confiscated.
If he had said, “I’m going to Kelantan for a conference and probably unwind on the golf course,” his wife would think nothing of it and say to herself, “It’s Kelantan. What could he possibly get up to, over there?”
With this new Kelantan directive, alarm bells should start ringing for her.
This topic brings to mind an Incident that happened one day in Kluang Garrison in 1972.
One morning as I came to office, I saw a line of old Morris Minor, Austin of England, Hillman, Opel parked along the side of the office. I checked with my Chief Clerk to find out what was happening. He told me that a delegation from a kampong nearby had come to see me. It was about a soldier from our camp and a girl from their kampong.
I, the Adjutant of Kluang Garisson had to handle this matter. I could have just called for the Garisson Tuan Guru and he would have organised this forced marriage. Case closed. To me that did not seem fair to all partys. I took matter into my own hands. The Chief Clerk briefed me and I called for the girl into my office.The story of King Solomon,s Justice came to mind. How did this come about? I asked her.
She said that she was waiting at the bus stop and this soldier was also at the bus stop and they got talking getting to know each other. She then invited him to her house. They went to her house. She introduced her parents to the soldier and they were chit chatting. The father then said he was going to the kampong shop to get a packet of cigarette. Then the mother said that was going to have a bath. Then after a while the house was surrounded by the kampong folks demanding that they should be married.
So this happened, What do you want? She said that she wants to marry him. I said ” You do not know him and you want to marry him. Why?” The answer was “A soldier’s wife gets pay’
“If it is ‘pay’ that you are looking for, why marry a soldier whose pay is very small. I am a ‘Captain’ and I am not married.”
To this she replied ‘ Sir, if you are willing to marry me, then we shall forget about the soldier’ This was enough for me to decide.
I called for the Penghulu and the girl’s parents and with the girl and the Chief Clerk present explained to them my view of marriage.
I am a Catholic. I view marriage a serious and sacred matter. The husband and wife must be digified in this union. You cannot go and catch somebody from the bus stop and marry your daughter to that person and tell yourself that you as parents have done your duty and married your daughter off. To all and sundry, you as parents did your duty, but did you do it in the best interest of your daughter or to get it done and over with. If your daughter gets divorced in a month from this union, then she lives with the stigma of “Janda” as a young girl. The man will go off and marry another. There is no stigma attached to a divorced man
I said that I do not know the soldier and was not going to call the soldier up on this matter. I considered this matter closed. I then invited them for coffee break. They joined us for tea and kueh and seemed to accept the outcome. The mother was very happy with the outcome. What did it cost me? $5 for kueh and 2 people untangled. I did this in fairness to 2 people of the human race. 2 persons I did not know. I hope that incident in 1972 has got these 2 persons on their lives journey, now maybe as grandparents on different paths