Mar­riage syn­di­cates prey­ing on gullible Malaysians

New Straits Times - - News - DAN

GET­TING mar­ried in south­ern Thai­land is a breeze, if you ask a 42-year-old taxi driver who wishes to be known only as Dan.

For a decade, the Thai na­tional has been tak­ing Malaysian cou­ples across the bor­der to be mar­ried in south­ern Thai­land.

Dan charges them 10,000 baht (RM1,280), which he said cov­ered the trans­port costs and the fee of the kadi ( judge).

“I have been of­fer­ing this ser­vice for 10 years. Back then, I could bring in at least one cou­ple a day from Bukit Kayu Hi­tam to Hatyai to get mar­ried.

“How­ever, the num­ber has been dwin­dling with the emer­gence of many agents over the last few years, of­fer­ing sim­i­lar ser­vices,” he told the New Sun­day Times.

Claim­ing that the pack­age he of­fered was le­gal, Dan said it in­cluded help­ing the cou­ple to ap­ply for a mar­riage reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment at the Malaysian con­sulate of­fice in Songkhla, a trip to Hatyai for the hon­ey­moon and re­turn trip to the con­sulate of­fice the next day to col­lect the cer­tifi­cate.

“All I need are the cou­ple’s MyKad and pass­ports. If the woman is a di­vorcee or a wi­dow, she needs to fur­nish a cer­tifi­cate to prove her sta­tus,” said Dan.

His pack­age ap­pears to be cheaper than those of­fered by mar­riage agents.

Some pro­mote their ser­vices on­line and ask for RM2,000 and more. They say this cov­ers the fees for the ap­pli­ca­tion and reg­is­tra­tion process with the Is­lamic re­li­gious of­fice in south­ern Thai­land.

They also state that only cer­ti­fied ju­runikah ap­pointed by the Thai mufti would be al­lowed to han­dle the solem­ni­sa­tion process.

One of the agents said Malaysian cou­ples would still have to go through all the stan­dard pro­cesses to reg­is­ter their mar­riage with the Malaysian au­thor­i­ties upon re­turn­ing home.

A source in Ke­lan­tan fa­mil­iar with the ac­tiv­i­ties of the syn­di­cates said at least 10 groups were ac­tive in the state. He said there were also agents in Tereng­ganu, Pa­hang and other states.

“The syn­di­cates op­er­at­ing along the Malaysian-Thai bor­der hold the akad nikah (solem­ni­sa­tion cer­e­mony) at mosques near the bor­der near Pasir Mas and Ran­tau Pan­jang.

“How­ever, the solem­ni­sa­tion cer­e­mony is not car­ried out ac­cord­ing to the reg­u­la­tions set by the Thai re­li­gious coun­cil. There­fore, the mar­riage is not valid,” said the source.

The source said many un­sus­pect­ing cou­ples were will­ing to pay up to RM3,500 to the agents.

“They re­alise that they have been cheated only when they are hus­band to be equipped with re­li­gious knowl­edge so that he can han­dle any sit­u­a­tion with­out harm­ing peo­ple in the re­la­tion­ship,” he said.

Karim, 58, from Kan­gar, learned about polygamy the hard way when he was or­dered to pay a fine of RM1,000 and at­tend lengthy court pro­ceed­ings be­fore he could reg­is­ter his sec­ond mar­riage.

He and his sec­ond wife got un­able to reg­is­ter their mar­riages at state re­li­gious de­part­ments in Malaysia,” he said.

The source said syn­di­cate mem­bers moved se­cretly in small groups and would ap­proach po­ten­tial cou­ples who had lit­tle knowl­edge about mar­riage laws in Thai­land.

“The fee might be higher de­pend­ing on the states where the akad nikah is held,” said the source, adding that the syn­di­cates would claim to be work­ing with imam or rep­re­sen­ta­tives of mosques in Thai­land or the re­li­gious coun­cil, and that their ser­vices were val­i­dated by the Thai re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties.

The source said the Malaysian au­thor­i­ties had been work­ing hard to iden­tify the syn­di­cates with the help of their coun­ter­parts mar­ried in Be­tong, Thai­land, and the reg­is­tra­tion took over a year to be com­pleted.

“My sec­ond wife is from Pe­nang. I did not dare ask for con­sent from my first wife to get mar­ried again be­cause I feared that it would ruin our mar­riage.

“Af­ter con­sult­ing my sec­ond wife’s fam­ily, we de­cided to tie the knot in Be­tong. The bride’s fa­ther gave his bless­ings and even fol­lowed us to Be­tong as the in Thai­land, but they had only been par­tially suc­cess­ful.

“One group was busted by the au­thor­i­ties in Tereng­ganu last year. How­ever, the syn­di­cate mem­bers are crafty and man­aged to es­cape many times.”

The source said the syn­di­cate in Tereng­ganu charged RM3,500 for a has­sle-free polyg­a­mous mariage, com­plete with a fake mar­riage cer­tifi­cate.

The syn­di­cate’s three mem­bers who were civil ser­vants, in­clud­ing an of­fi­cial of the Tereng­ganu Re­li­gious Af­fairs Depart­ment, were busted in Kuala Tereng­ganu by the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion. They were de­tained un­der Sec­tion 17(a) of the Malaysian An­tiCor­rup­tion Act.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing team learnt that the syn­di­cate charged each cou­ple RM3,500 and their mar­riages were reg­is­tered in a neigh­bour­ing coun­try with­out the con­sent of the first wife or a syariah court as pre­scribed by law.

I have been of­fer­ing this ser­vice for 10 years. Back then, I could bring in at least one cou­ple a day from Bukit Kayu Hi­tam to Hatyai to get mar­ried.

wali,” he said.

Karim only made an ap­pli­ca­tion to reg­is­ter the mar­riage with the Fed­eral Ter­ri­tory Is­lamic Re­li­gious Depart­ment (Jawi) a few months later, hop­ing to buy time be­fore his first wife found out.

“I ended up hav­ing to pay a RM1,000 fine and had to at­tend court pro­ceed­ings for al­imony set­tle­ment for my first wife. A year later, I fi­nally ob­tained my mar­riage cer­tifi­cate,” he said.

HURI ISA PIC BY ZA­MAN

A busi­ness­man, who wants to be known only as Shah, with his sec­ond wife, Aida.

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