KOTA KINABALU, Oct 1 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said today that the state will consider all expert opinions, including its mufti’s call for allowing Muslim girls to marry at 14.
Shafie said its Law and Native Affairs Minister Datuk Aidi Mokhtar, a former Shariah court judge, will evaluate all the opinions, before deciding on the minimum age limit for marriage in the state.
“The idea was floated by the mufti — he is a religious expert so we have to listen to his proposals and opinions.
“I asked my minister in charge of religious affairs to evaluate and ensure we have the right idea before we make any announcement, but I think we will soon make an announcement on what is the right age,” he said.
Shafie had come under fire after a portal reported him saying the proposed minimum age of 18 years old was already “too late”.
He was commenting on Sabah mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz Jaafar, who had recently proposed that the legal minimum age of marriage for Muslims to be set at 14 for girls and 16 for boys to give consideration for rural communities who cannot further their education.
Shafie said that Bungsu was a religious authority that would know better about Islamic law.
“I didn’t say we will go along with it. We cannot have 12 year olds getting married. They don’t know how to run a house, a family, or even drive a car. A lot of consideration has to be given,” he said.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that working papers were being prepared to raise the minimum age for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
For customary marriages, she said the respective customary heads will be informed of the dangers of underage marriages to the health and safety of the child.