SINGAPORE: A proposed law could soon allow civil and Muslim marriages to be solemnised remotely using technology, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Sunday (Apr 26).
In a Facebook post, Mr Lee said this would eliminate the need for couples to be present at the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) or the Registry of Marriages (ROM), or in the physical presence of a marriage solemniser and witnesses.
The Bill will be introduced at the next Parliament sitting on May 4, said Mr Lee.
If it is passed, the law will allow couples, where at least one party is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, to have their marriages solemnised in this way. This could begin as early as mid-May, said Mr Lee.
To ensure that "proper safeguards" are in place, this process will only be made available to couples who are presenting Singapore-issued documents for verification, instead of foreign-issued documents, added Mr Lee.
The couples and their witnesses must be physically in Singapore for them to sign the statutory declaration and for the verification of the necessary documents, he said. The couple, solemniser, witnesses and the wali (for Muslim marriages) must also all be physically in Singapore during the solemnisation of the marriage.
"The ongoing pandemic has caused many couples to be anxious about their marriage plans," Mr Lee said.
"During the 'circuit breaker' period, marriage solemnisations for civil and Muslim marriages have had to be postponed since solemnisations need to be conducted physically.
"Even during a crisis, we should try to enable important life events such as marriages to go on. We should not let COVID-19 hold back those who are ready to start a new life together."
READ: Solemnisations between Apr 7 and May 4 will need to be postponed, appeals heard on 'case-by-case' basis: MSF, ROMM
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and ROMM had said that solemnisations scheduled for between the initial circuit breaker period of Apr 7 and May 4 would need to be postponed, with appeals heard on a "case-by-case" basis.
The circuit breaker period has since been extended by four weeks until Jun 1.
"If all goes well, we hope to extend this as an option to more couples, even after the circuit breaker period. We will also resume solemnisations that are conducted in person, when it is safe to do so," said Mr Lee.
"For the health of our loved ones and the community, let us continue to maintain strict safe distancing.
"We also appreciate that many couples have made responsible decisions to postpone gatherings and celebrations until the COVID-19 situation improves."