GUA MUSANG, Kelantan: Che Mohd Karim, who reportedly married an 11-year-old girl, has said he is ready to face legal action.
Mohd Karim, 41, said he had given full cooperation to the authorities involved in the investigations into the marriage.
However, he said he would not divorce her and was ready to wait for another five years, when his wife reaches the age of 16, before they live together. Sixteen is the minimum legal age for girls to marry in Malaysia.
"I don't feel guilty because we were married with blessings from her father,” he told reporters on Tuesday (Jul 3).
Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail previously said that the man is being investigated for sexual grooming.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, said the government views the couple as unmarried for as long as no evidence is presented.
Kelantan Syariah chief prosecutor Zaini Sulaiman was also reported as saying that the rubber dealer could be charged with polygamy under the Islamic Family Law Enactment 2002 for marrying the underage girl without the consent from the court and permission from his two other wives.
Meanwhile, Narathiwat Islamic religious council president Safei Cheklah said the couple were married by a religious leader in the province.
However, Safei said the marriage was performed without permission from the council.
Both the girl’s parents are said to be Thai citizens.
Shafei added that the marriage was not wrong in terms of syariah law, but constituted an offence according to Malaysian civil law.
Despite not staying together, Mohd Karim promised to take care of his third wife as well as his two other wives and six children.
"Even though my third wife is currently living with her parents, I will bear the expenses including giving her religious education," he said.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the non-Muslim community not to blame Islam for the marriage.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim described the matter as an isolated case that could take place in any other part of the world.
"It's not about Islam, but individual,” he told reporters.