Published on: Monday, January 06, 2014
Kota Baru: Agents in Kelantan are raking about RM9 million monthly, by helping Muslim couples get married in Thailand.
For just a day's work, these couples are willing to give RM3,000 to these agents to help them elope.
The agents will pocket about RM2,500 from the couple who engage their services, which include making arrangements with the Islamic councils in provinces such as Narathiwat in southern Thailand.
An agent, who wanted to be known only as Zaleha, said runners charged couples more than RM3,000, when the going rate was between RM1,500 and RM2,200 several years ago.
"Our expenses to take a couple to Thailand come up to about RM450 and this includes the fee to obtain the official marriage certificate from the council."
Zaleha claimed she could ensure that the certificates were issued on the same day the marriage was held, a prerequisite set by many couples seeking her services.
Such service efficiency, she said was something she could guarantee as she had developed close contacts with Thai officials at the council over the years, besides understanding the logistics needed to make the return trips.
"Besides, most couples do not want to stay longer than required after tying the knot, otherwise they would have to spend more on hotel and food bills."
Zaleha said couples who chose to marry in Thailand were normally those with problems including cases where the bride failed to get permission from her family.
Equally high in number are men who wanted to take on a second wife without the knowledge of their first. She said there were cases of women who became pregnant outside of marriage and wanted the fastest way to legitimise the pregnancy.
"The marriage procedures are more lenient in Thailand, compared with Malaysia."
A former divorcee, who wished to be known only as Halijah, 48, said she engaged Zaleha's services to remarry in Narathiwat last year.
She said they had to elope as her husband could not obtain permission from his first wife to enter into a polygamy.
"After my first husband died, I met my new husband who was my first love 30 years ago."
Narathiwat Islamic Council deputy president Abdul Aziz Che Mamat said about 100 Malaysian couples got married at the council every month.
He said the council maintained standards to ensure the brides were either officially divorced or that they were genuinely unmarried before the council solemnised their marriage.
"We ask for their original divorce certificates and valid travel documents with immigration proof of entry into Thailand, before marrying them."
Aziz said widows were required to bring along the death certificates of their husbands as proof of their eligibility to remarry under Islamic law.
"It is easy for men, as we will marry them to the women they bring to our office even if they do not get permission from their first wives or religious authorities in Malaysia.
It is my duty to facilitate the marriages of Muslim couples without permission from their families, to prevent them from committing zina (illicit sex)."