KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 ― The child marriage incident in Gua Musang is still under active investigation by multiple agencies, said Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail.
In a statement here today, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said her ministry is coordinating the investigation.
“We note the distress caused and the concerns raised by the incident involving a 41-year-old Malaysian man who allegedly married an 11-year-old Thai national living in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
“Our stand is clear and has consistently been the one expressed on July 2. We unequivocally oppose child marriages and are taking steps to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years. My officers are already working on this. Our position on this issue has not changed,” she said.
She added that it was not wise to prejudge the issue before all the evidence is brought together and the investigation is complete.
“As the government, we have to act within the laws of the federation. This is what the rule of law means.
The actions we take in dealing with this alleged incident of child marriage must be based on evidence. We will issue a statement on this matter only after the investigation is complete,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah added that while the ministry understood the anger this incident had caused, it was important to not let personal feelings dictate the course of actions that should be taken.
“It would be unjust to lynch someone by social media because of how we feel about the issue,” she said.
A non-governmental organisation comprising noted and influential former civil servants had issued a statement urging the government to make child marriage a federal crime.
The G25 group said in the statement that once enforced, it would be a new law that had to be observed by all parties.
The issue of child marriages became a hot topic after the 41-year-old man married the 11-year-old girl in Narathiwat, Thailand.
The Syariah Court in Gua Musang imposed a RM1,800-fine on the man after he pleaded guilty to marrying the underaged child without consent from the court and committing polygamy without the consent and agreement of his wives.
Meanwhile, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the proposal to make child marriage a crime will be tabled in Parliament, said Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh.
She said it would be tabled by Dr Wan Azizah as the minister responsible for the matter.
“Let the minister answer. I believe the issue is still hot and I am sure it will be brought up in Parliament,” she told reporters after officiating the ASEAN Premier Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Show (Asean M&E Show) here today.
However, the Segambut MP did not give any further details on when the issue would be tabled in Parliament.
The first session of the 14th Parliament was opened by Yang di-Pertuan Agung Sultan Muhammad V today. The Dewan Rakyat session which begins tomorrow will be held for 20 days until Aug 16. ― Bernama