Move to allow cross-border marriage amnesty welcomed

Authorities say the amnesty programme is to protect the welfare of families, not to encourage people to get married without consent.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Sharie Lawyers Association has welcomed the Kedah government’s proposed cross-border marriage amnesty programme to protect children born to couples who married outside the country and did not register their union here.

A report in the New Straits Times (NST) quoted association president Musa Awang as saying the programme would, in effect, protect children who had been left “stateless” as a result of such marriages.

He said the programme would also affect birth registration, status and school enrolment.

However, he warned that people should not be allowed to abuse the programme as it was possible that some couples might use this clemency to get married outside the country without obtaining consent from local Islamic religious authorities.

NST yesterday reported that the Kedah government was embarking on a cross-border marriage amnesty programme to help 10,000 Muslim women who are not officially recognised as wives as they had tied the knot in Thailand.

The report said an estimated 30,000 children had been made stateless due to the failure of their parents to register their marriage with Islamic religious offices here.

“It is a good initiative because due to the geographical factor, many people in Kedah get married in Thailand,” he told the daily.

NST quoted Ahmad Fuad Ashari, a coordinator for Islamic NGO Halaqah Ilmi, as saying the programme could be a solution for couples who found it difficult to register their marriage in Malaysia and obtain birth certificates for their children.

State Religious, Tourism and Heritage, and Public Works Committee chairman Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid was quoted as saying the programme was not to encourage people to get married without consent.

He said it was to help those who had been married for a long time but had failed to register their union, and to protect the welfare and future of their families.

“We have met the authorities, including the state Islamic Affairs Department, state Shariah Judiciary Department, state legal adviser and the state National Registration Department, to discuss the matter.

“We have briefed district Islamic officers to make sure that their staff understand the process,” he was quoted as saying.