Minimum age to wed: Sabah government will comply, but...

Julia Chan
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said Sabah will comply with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s directive to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 years old, but with an exemption clause. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 23 — Sabah will comply with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s directive to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 years old, but with an exemption clause.

Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said that there will be exceptions allowed for some marriage cases to be referred to the Shariah or civil courts.

“We had discussed this during a meeting the other day with chief ministers and mentri besars. We have decided we can concur with that. The Sabah government will go along with it.

“But we will have some exit point, where there’s certain occasions when there’s certain remote place, when there’s a requirement, the case can be referred to Shariah or civil court,” he said, adding that the State had ordinance and enactments which provided for such event

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has issued a directive ordering all state governments in Malaysia to raise the legal minimum marriage age to 18 years for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Yesterday, Sabah Law and Native Affairs Minister Datuk Aidi Mokhtar said that the current Shariah law states that the legal marriage age for boys is 18 and girls, 16 and there is no official order to amend it yet.

Shafie had previously said that the state government was considering taking on Sabah mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz’s proposal to set the minimum age of 14 for girls and 16 for boys, but later decided to stick with the status quo.

Sabah has among the highest rate of child marriages in the country, believed to be due to its correspondingly high poverty rate.

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