The man who has solemnised his marriage with an 11-year-old girl said that he will not be living with his new wife - his third - until she turns 16 and does not plan to give her up despite public outcry.
Rubber dealer Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, 41, said he and the girl had undertaken a “nikah gantung” ceremony in Golok, Thailand last month.
Nikah gantung referred to an arrangement where the marriage was solemnised first but the couple could defer living together.
He told Bernama that he had sought the permission from the girl’s father and they had agreed to his marriage proposal.
“I know that the girl is only 11 and is not going to school. We need to wait until she is 16 to live together and (the girl) agreed,” Che Abdul Karim said, according to Bernama.
He said he was disappointed by netizens who are slandering him and will take legal action against his critics.
Meanwhile, Bernama reports that the girl’s father, Mat Rashid Rimadsa, 49, corroborated Che Abdul Karim’s story.
Rubber tapper Mat Rashid, 49, said he often sold his produce to Che Abdul Karim in Gua Musang.
“He promised me that he would register the marriage with the Islamic Affairs Department in Kelantan when (my daughter) turns 16 years of age. At the moment, she is staying with me,” he said.
Mat Rashid said he and his family were all Thai citizens residing in Gua Musang.
He said Che Abdul Karim had made the proposal one week before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
"I told him that my daughter was not old enough to be a wife as she was only 11 years old, but the man persisted and promised to nikah gantung, so I agreed,” he said.
"The man was willing to marry my daughter because he wanted to help me as I am poor and depend on the income I get tapping rubber.”
The girl told Bernama that she loved Che Abdul Karim although he was already married to two women. She claimed to have a good relationship with both wives.
"I accept whatever decision my parents and husband have made, to wait five years before we can live together because I realise that I am only 11 years old,” she said, adding that she was not bothered what others said because she was happy with her husband.
The Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department director Che Mohd Rahim Jusoh said his department would investigate the matter as even if the marriage was conducted in another country, Malaysians had to get the permission of the Syariah Court and the girl’s parents if she was underaged.
“The law only allows a woman who is 18 years and older to marry without requiring the consent of the Syariah Court,” he told Bernama.