ALOR SETAR: The state will inform first wives 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, expected to start next month, will see such marriages legalised, even if the men are already married here.

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, said state Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid (pic).

He said the move was to solve problems and not to promote illicit marriages.

“For their children, they will have problems with education, rights to public healthcare and citizenship.

“The spouses themselves will face difficulties especially making any claims when one of them dies or when they divorce,” he told the state assembly here yesterday.

Mohd Rawi said this programme was similar to Selangor’s ‘Jom Daftar Nikah’ programme.

Launched between Aug 1 and Nov 1 last year, the Selangor programme saw 1,938 illegal marriages solemnised by the state.

It was reported that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department found cases of couples not legalising their marriages until they became grandparents.

Mohd Rawi stressed that Kedah’s objective was to protect the future of the subsequent wives and children.

He said emphasis would be given to couples with children who have not registered their marriages.

“We want them to have valid marriage certificates so that their children will not become victims and be denied citizenship,” he said in reply to Md Zuki Yusof (PAS- Kuala Ketil) about measures taken to help Muslim families who failed to register their marriages.

Mohd Rawi added that a booklet to create public awareness on the necessity of registering marriages had been published and distributed.

The booklet also educates married couples on the complexities they face when their marriages are not solemnised in Malaysia.

“We have discussed this with several departments including the state Islamic Religious Affairs Department and the Syariah courts.

“We have also met with state Women Development and State Welfare Committee chairman Datuk Suraya Yaacob,” he said.