Malaysians warned on Thai marriages

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities have warned men who marry foreign women that failure to register the marriages could create problems for both themselves and their brides.

The warning was directed specifically to men involved in a reported new fad where Malaysian men seek Thai women to be second, third or fourth wives in Muslim ceremonies in south Thailand, according to a report in the New Straits Times newspaper Wednesday.

Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong said that one common problem is that under Malaysian law, children of an unregistered marriage must take the nationality of the mother.

"If the mother is Thai, then the child will be a Thai national, regardless of whether the husband or the father of the child is a Malaysian," he told a press conference.

"Quickie" marriages between visiting Malaysian men and Thai women were rapidly becoming popular, with one mosque in Songkhla province now well known as a destination for a fast, Muslim wedding ceremony.

Between 10 and 30 simple Islamic nikah wedding ceremonies are held daily at the mosque, Chem Hemman, vice president of Songkhla Islamic Committee, told the Bangkok Post.

In northern Perlis state, Mr Lee claimed officials had seen 970 such cases in the past two years. Because of failure to register marriages with the Malaysian government, Malaysian men were involved in problems over citizenship, late birth registration and birth certificates for children.

Local government official Mohamed Isa Sabu of Perlis told the newspaper, "We are aware there have been cases of children not allowed to register in government schools as they were not Malaysians."

The government has opened an information programme to help Thai women with marriage registration.