Deputy minister frets as couples split up over reasons as petty as eating in cars

Hannah Yeoh expressed worry over rising cases of divorce in Malaysia. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Hannah Yeoh expressed worry over rising cases of divorce in Malaysia. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh expressed worry over rising cases of divorce within five years of marriage, saying most were over reasons she said were “trivial”.

She was commenting on a Free Malaysia Today article citing the Selangor Department of Shariah Judiciary, which reported that among reasons given for divorce were wives going on group trips, doing laundry at night, an eating in cars.

“Others include differences in political opinion, the husband’s salary being lower than his wife, snoring in bed, or enjoys shopping,” Yeoh said in Dewan Rakyat today.

Many MPs could be heard laughing loudly as she recited the reasons, with Padang Serai MP M. Karupaiya quipping that many of the women on group trips could be “Wanita Umno members going for holidays”.

Yeoh also joked that she preferred to do her laundry at night, prompting Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming to suggest she employ the services of a laundromat.

She responded by saying that nothing could be done since the Parliamentary session ended well into the night, eliciting further laughter from the MPs.

However, Yeoh also insisted the topic was not a laughing matter.

“It has become quite a serious issue given the trivial nature for the reasons of divorce. To this, the government will take steps to strengthen marriages and the family institution,” she said.

These included programmes by the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) such as Smart Start to educate couples married under five years in setting up households, Smart Belanja to educate them on sound financial management for the household, and the Smart Start Second Honeymoon, which only applies to first and not second marriages.

Yeoh was answering a question by Kangar MP Noor Amin Ahmad on the breakdown of divorces for couples married for less than five years as well as the main causes.

“Between 2013 and 2017 the Federal Territories Islamic Department recorded 2,932 marriages, with statistics from the other states still being gathered.

“For non-Muslims, 14,440 divorces were recorded in the same period, with Johor the highest at 2,860 cases, followed by the Federal Territories at 2,721 cases and Selangor with 1,858 cases,” she said.

Adding that LPPKN’s study in 2014 revealed more than 1/3 of marriages under five years end in divorce, Yeoh said the most commonly cited reasons include irreconcilable difference, unfaithful spouses, and interference from the marriage from in-laws.