GEORGE TOWN: Rohingyas and other Muslim refugees residing in Malaysia should be subject to the same Syariah laws that the citizens of this country abide by.
Lawyer Habib Rahman Seeni Mohideen said this also included legislation on marriage. For instance, he said, the Syariah law in Malaysia prohibited marriage for individuals under 16 years of age unless an exemption was granted by the Syariah Court.
The marriage must also be conducted by a certified registrar or kadi who had been given full authority to perform the task by the respective state religious authorities, he explained.
The father of the 11-year-old Rohingya girl who gave consent to her marriage to a 21-year-old man was therefore committing an offence, Habib added.
The wedding was supposed to proceed last Wednesday but was stopped by two police officers who visited the family in the company of K. Sudhagaran Stanley Singh, the founder Lifebridge Learning Centre, a school for Rohingya children funded by civil societies.
The solemnisation of the marriage, at a house in Taman Perai, Butterworth, was to be conducted by a kadi from the Rohingya community. The family has since moved to Tasek Gelugor.
Stanley had earlier expressed disappointment with the girl’s father Mohamed Somir Abdul Razak for going back on his promise to allow his daughter to resume schooling. The father had reportedly said that it was a sin to allow his daughter to continue going to school.
Both deputy chief ministers of Penang — Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and Dr P. Ramasamy — have called on the authorities to provide a holistic solution to the problem faced by the family.
Zakiyuddin pointed out that the rule of law must apply in the case. “This is our only guide given the family’s reluctance to allow the girl to continue schooling,” he said.
Ramasamy said the people should not judge the family. “They are refugees and survival is their greatest priority,” he said.
The father had cited financial problems as a reason for allowing his daughter to get married.
Stanley said the state government should not be lackadaisical over the latter. “The family has been living in Penang for the last 10 years. The girl was born here and in some countries she would already be a citizen,” he added.
At the same time, he said, the family should be subject to Malaysian laws.
“Majority of the people in this country reject child marriages and they also do not condone children dropping out of school,” he added.
Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom) president Zahar Ahmad Ghnai unveiled identity cards for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. The “I Am Rohinya” ID will be issued by Merhrom.