20,000 foreigners married locals
Published on: Thursday, May 23, 2013
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Kota Kinabalu: Almost 20,000 Muslim foreigners comprising Filipinas and Indonesians married Muslim locals since 2000, according to Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department (Jheains) - a factor attributed to the increasing population in Sabah.Its principal assistant director for administration division cum Registrar for Marriages, Divorces and Reconciliation, Baharuddin Alwi, said 19,781 Muslim foreigners were recorded as marrying the locals during the period.

However, he said, the statistics also showed more foreign women opted to marry local men in Sabah (10,922) compared to 8,859 foreign men marrying local women in the same period.

"The number of Muslim foreign women marrying local men in the State surged from 222 people in 2000 to 1,302 in 2012.

"Although there were increases and decreases in between the 12 years period, the overall statistics did show a gradual climb in registration of marriages between Malaysian men and foreign women in Sabah," he said.

Baharuddin was testifying as the 78th witness at the hearing of Royal Commission of Inquiry on huge presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah, here, Wednesday.

Foreign men who married Malaysian women, he said, came from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Philippines and Indonesia, among others.

To a question from RCI Chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim as to the purpose of testifying on these statistics, Conducting Officer Datuk Azmi Ariffn said it was to find out how and why the population increased in Sabah over the years.

On marriages records from 1970s onwards, Baharuddin said the department has them but need some time to retrieve them. He said the foreigners produced valid identification and travel documents before registering their marriages in the department.

"These documents must also be verified with the concerned authorities and only then we continue to process their applications for them to marry.

"Among the documents are valid IMM13 cards, letter of census (Surat Banci) from the Chief Minister's Department that has been verified, Temporary Identification Receipts issued by the Settlement Unit, and passports except work pass.

"Under the Immigration Act, foreign workers possessing work pass cannot marry but he or she needs to revoke the work pass and return to the origin before coming back to Malaysia to marry," he said.

Datuk John Sikayun who is holding watching brief for Sabah Law Association, noted two underage Muslim girls aged 13 and14 among those Muslim Malaysian women who registered as married in the bundle of statistics submitted as exhibit in the hearing.

In light of this, Baharuddin said the Family Syariah Law required that any men who wants to marry an underage women must seek permission from the Syariah Court to do so prior to registering the marriage at Jheains.


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