PAS deputy president, who is also the MP for Kubang Kerian, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, caused outrage when he told parliament that he had found a way for Malaysia’s 4.8 million single women to get married.
His suggestion was for men to enter a polygamous marriage with the women. He then urged the family and community development ministry to provide moral support to the men who qualify.
PAS politicians appear to be out of touch with the electorate, and with reality. There are many more issues to bring up in Parliament, but Tuan Ibrahim thinks polygamy and the issue of unmarried problem to be major concerns with the rakyat.
For a start, we have a cost of living crisis and many families are struggling to manage their lives. People lost jobs in the pandemic and as economic recovery is slow, many people who were retrenched are still looking for jobs.
Malaysia’s graduates have problems searching for gainful employment. Childcare for working mothers who want to go out and work is expensive. Care for the elderly is another major problem.
If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, many polygamous husbands have not given each wife the equal treatment that she deserves. In many cases, only the youngest wife is well provided for.
It is alleged that 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.
Many polygamous husbands cannot afford to support their large families and the quality of life for the children and wives will be poor.
Tuan Ibrahim was irresponsible to suggest the idea in the first place. Moreover, why does he think that the millions of women, who in his opinion, have “left it too late to get married”, actually want a husband? Remaining single or otherwise is a personal choice. It should not be up to the men to decide.
Instead of urging the minister to provide moral support, Tuan Ibrahim should tell us how the man who decides to enter a polygamous marriage is able to support himself, his other wives and their children.
If the PAS deputy president wants to discuss something of merit, he should urge Parliament to find ways and means to strictly enforce the shariah laws so that women who are divorced or who have been abandoned by their husband can receive maintenance and child support for themselves and their children.
The shariah system is laborious, ineffective or inefficient, and many women claim to have been let down by the courts. They end up with no financial help and this affects their quality of life for themselves and their children.
For some, the family may come to their aid, but others who live away from their parents or other family members, struggle to earn a living and are forced to leave their young children at home, unsupervised and unattended, whilst they go to work, to be able to support themselves and their children. Because of the hardship they face, some have to take up two or three jobs simply to survive.
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 of shariah alimony and child maintenance. Their predicament has given birth to a new expression, “ibu tinggal” (abandoned woman).
Whilst some women MPs have objected to Tuan Ibrahim’s remarks in Parliament, the majority of women outside parliament appear to be very relaxed about his suggestion. When will they realise that Parliament needs their voice, too?
The women may want to dwell on the findings by Sisters In Islam (SIS), which showed that the top four reasons for Muslim divorces were communication problems, domestic violence, husbands not providing maintenance, and infidelity or affair.
By continuing their silence over such matters, many Malay men will continue to disregard the rules and ride roughshod over the women whom they have divorced or abandoned.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.