PETALING JAYA: A rubber tapper who stirred controversy after marrying a minor said he feels guilty for inadvertently compelling Putrajaya to push for the minimum age of marriage to be raised to 18, Berita Harian reported.
“I feel guilty because my marriage has affected everyone,” the 41-year old told the Malay daily, adding that people had since urged the government to raise the legal marrying age to 18 in the country.
While Berita Harian did not name the rubber tapper, it was previously reported that Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid was fined RM1,800 by the Gua Musang Shariah Court after pleading guilty to marrying an 11-year-old in southern Thailand in June.
He also pleaded guilty to engaging in polygamy without permission from his spouse. The girl was his third wife.
The Kelantanese also drew brickbats when he said he had wanted to marry the girl since she was seven years old.
Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said various ministries, as well as state governments, were working towards raising the minimum age for marriage.
Wan Azizah, who is also women, family and community development minister, said this would involve amending legislation such as the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Act 1984, the Islamic Family Ordinance Laws in every state, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, as well as native customary laws in Sarawak.
The tapper also told Berita Harian that he was still in regular contact with his child bride, known only as Ayu, who has moved with her parents back to her hometown of Narathiwat, Thailand.
He last saw her two weeks ago.
“Our wedding photo is the only consolation I have, but I still miss her very much,” he was quoted as saying.
He was earlier reported to have said that he would apply for a marriage certificate after five years, when the girl turns 16, the marital age under shariah law.
Until then, the girl will live with her parents, he said.
Narathiwat provincial governor Suraporn Prommool had said the girl was undergoing mental health counselling because of the intense level of attention sparked by her marriage.