KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Kubang Kerian MP Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man today suggested a policy that “provides moral support” for single women over 30 to enter polygamous marriage.

The PAS deputy president said the number of single women in the country, which he put at around eight million, is a cause for concern. He suggested polygamy could be a “way out” and that the government should not portray it as negative.

“I don’t understand why polygamy is a sensitive issue. When we mention polygamy, it’s like someone committed a crime. For those who are eligible and can be fair, moral support should be given,” he said during the Budget 2024 committee stage debate under the Ministry of Women, Children and Community Development.

“Imagine there are 8.4 million women who are still not married. Even if it (polygamy) is not the ultimate solution, it can be a way out; how to solve this problem,” the Kubang Kerian MP added.


“Maybe this is something the ministry can consider.”

In Malaysia, polygamy is legal for Muslims but the practice remains controversial.

Muslim conservatives argue that polygamous marriage is allowed by Islam while progressives say that interpretation is debatable in the modern era.


Groups like Sisters of Islam, a think tank that pushes for a more progressive interpretation of the faith, say support for polygamy came from the act of Prophet Muhammad marrying several women whose husbands were killed in wars. In today’s world, they argue polygamy is not ideal.

PAS leaders have been among the most vocal in supporting polygamy.

Tuan Ibrahim’s suggestion was met with criticism from female MPs. Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh went on X, formerly Twitter, to question why Tuan Ibrahim thinks being single is a problem.

“A PAS parliamentarian suggested women who marry late is a problem. Yang Berhormat, in my opinion, marrying late isn’t a problem that needs to be solved,” Yeoh wrote.

“What is the point of getting married if you’re going to be neglected,” she added.

Allegations of negligence are rife among those in polygamous marriages, according to critics of the practice.

Yeo Bee Yin, DAP MP for Puchong, demanded action against the PAS lawmaker, calling his proposal an insult to women.

“I think what he said was very sexist,” Yeo said.

“Why is it that women not being married is a problem? Why is it that women marrying late is a problem but when men aren’t married or marry late, it is not a problem that has to be addressed?”

Tuan Ibrahim then defended himself, saying his remark was not meant to be sexist. The PAS leader said his proposal was only based on data that suggest difficulty finding a husband was the second biggest reason for women staying single.

But Yeo said the fact that the PAS lawmaker saw it as a problem itself is sexist. She then called the view that polygamy is a solution as an insult to women and wives.

“What was said is not just offensive to female MPs but also to women outside this Hall. What about the wives, what do they feel when a member of parliament is suggesting polygamy?” The DAP leader said.

Tuan Ibrahim said he would not retract his proposal despite Yeo’s push for him to do so.

Minister of Women, Children and Community Development Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri did not weigh in on the argument but said her ministry is looking into ways to raise the fertility rate.

Malaysia’s fertility rate reached the lowest in 50 years in 2022, according to Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) data released last month.