KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 — Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she has spoken to Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas on the need to expedite the case of an 11-year-old Thai girl who was married off to a 41-year-old Kelantan Muslim man.
In an exclusive interview with Malay Mail, the deputy prime minister denied that the government has not taken any action on the matter, clarifying that the AG is currently occupied with other pressing matters.
“I have spoken to the AG and discussed the case specifically.
“He has been given the papers and has to study it, but at the moment his attention is on 1MDB, and the yacht,” she said. “He is trying very hard.”
Dr Wan Azizah was referring to the super yacht Equanimity seized by the government recently, claiming that the vessel had been purchased using stolen funds from state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
About 200 people, including Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, rallied in Petaling Jaya here today against child marriage.
Dr Wan Azizah insisted that the government had the “political will” to raise the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 years old, but claimed there were a lot of factors which needed to be addressed first.
“There are federal and state laws which have to be ironed out, the issue of customary marriage in Sarawak as well.
“We want it done as soon as possible. It is important for the future of girls to have this in place, but it is not easy,” the Pandan MP said.
Dr Wan Azizah is under criticism from civil society over her handling of the Kelantan child bride case as no other action has been taken against the groom so far, apart from a RM1,800 fine for committing polygamy and marrying without court permission.
But on July 31, Dr Wan Azizah said a more thorough investigation was required for the case, as the Attorney-General’s Chambers wanted more evidence to be gathered and to enable a “watertight” case.
In Malaysia, the minimum legal age for marriage for Muslims in the states’ Islamic family laws is 18 and 16 for a male and female respectively, but those below these ages can still marry if they get the consent of a Shariah judge.