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Sunday, February 5, 2017

PAS’ election gimmick



If you told your wife, “Dear, I’m going to Hadyai for a conference and to play golf,” you would probably be clobbered over the head with a frying pan, and have your passport confiscated.
If you had said, “I’m going to Kelantan for a conference and probably unwind on the golf course,” she would think nothing of it and say to herself, “It’s Kelantan. What could he possibly get up to, over there?”
Actually, there’s plenty to alarm her!
Last Friday, the PAS-led government advised Muslim men that they need not trek across the border to get married, but instead stop-off in Kelantan to get hitched.
Incredibly, the news about polygamy was delivered by Kelantan’s Family Development, Welfare and People’s Wellbeing committee chairperson Mumtaz Md Nawi.
She said that the Kelantan state authorities would simplify the process of marriage for both single and married men. Is she unaware of the implications?
The marriage oath is “Till death do us part”. With Kelantan making it easy for men to enter into a polygamous marriage, newlyweds should realise that the new marriage oath will be “Till a younger woman comes along”.
In one fell swoop, the rights which Malay women have fought for since the end of the 19th Century; like the right to an education, to be financially independent, to work and equality with men, will be lost.
At one time, Muslim marriage laws offered some protection to women. PAS and the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (Jakim) have helped to dismantle this.
Yesterday’s Malay women were more courageous and were undaunted by the many challenges which life threw at them. Today’s Malay women are happy to be led by the nose.
The Malay women who have excelled in many fields will recoil at my remarks, but where are their voices to drown out those of the misogynists? Are they too proud to help their sisters who have no voice? Are they too selfish because they have made it good and their sisters have not? Are they too busy?
Look at recent events.
When a lorry driver was assaulted by a Datuk’s employees, the Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs Alliance of Malaysia (Ikhlas) came out to support him.
When two teenage girls were gang-raped by 30 men in Kelantan, where were the protests by ordinary women demanding a thorough investigation and justice? It is alleged that the case is now closed for lack of evidence. Really?
The Malays should unite to voice their disgust at the Kelantan move.
Mumtaz cited another reason for making polygamous marriages easy. She said, “This is to encourage the birth of more Muslim children. The Kelantan government will assist those men, who intend to have more children by taking second, third or fourth wives.”
‘Women are not breeding machines’
Has PAS lost the plot? Women are not mere breeding machines.
Mumtaz also said that Kelantan would encourage more women to produce excellent children. How?
With Kelantan having the highest rates of incest, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, AIDS, and poverty, what excellence is she referring to?
Who is going to support these wives and children? The state? Should Najib Abdul Razak be persuaded to increase the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) allocation?
If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, most polygamous husbands earn less than RM4,000 per month. Many men live off their younger wives, who support their extended families and step-children. The man’s role is to flit from one marital bed to another.
As few men observe the strict guidelines on polygamy, which states that men should marry single mothers or widows, society will end up with more single mothers, when couples divorce.
Single mothers are ‘Ibu Tunggal’ in Malay. They struggle to survive because of the poor enforcement on syariah alimony and child maintenance. Their predicament has given birth to a new expression, ‘Ibu Tinggal’ (abandoned woman).
Why did Kelantan make this polygamous ruling and humiliate the first wives?
We are entering the run-up to GE14. PAS has lost its credibility and its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, has seemingly lost the support of PAS’ grassroots supporters. He may yet lose Kelantan and he realises he cannot depend on divine intervention to retain the state.
Enter the PAS spin doctors. PAS must dangle attractive incentives to woo voters.
The polygamous marriage offer is actually a commercial enterprise and a politically astute election gimmick to attract more Muslim voters. It is part of a creative PAS election manifesto.
This polygamous marriage deal has nothing to offer the holy sanctity of the union of a man and woman. It is about making money.
PAS wants prospective couples to spend their money in Kelantan instead of Thailand. The syariah court marriage fees may be negligible, but think of the money spent during the honeymoon.
There is one bizarre twist. Either spouse who commits adultery will be punished with hudud, which PAS hopes to implement in Kelantan.
Business trip to Kelantan, anyone?

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). BlogTwitter.-Mkini

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