Saturday, 24 December 2005

Law for The New Family

The last few entries of Choc-a-Blog have been a big moan about the bitterly cold weather. But yesterday the temperature rose to a dangerous new level. I am not one to swear BUT the air was turning blue as I tried to digest the new Islamic Family Law that was passed in Malaysia yesterday! Make no mistakes, this is indeed Law for the New Family!! Not a new Family Law. What’s new about the way women are being treated?

I was alerted to this news by a call from the BBC who wanted to interview me on this matter. Felt an utter prat as I had not been following it but gosh the shock and the anguish that followed – it really ruined my day. I had wanted to blog about today – the anniversary of Choc-a-Blog. A year ago I meekly started this blog and got two comments and a year later Choc-a-Blog is still here – Alhamdulillah. I also wanted to blog about this December being an anniversary month of sorts; it was our 26th Wedding anniversary and thus our 26th year in the UK. This means I have spent more years here than in my own country – but this doesn’t mean I am not concerned about what is happening back home. I am VERY concerned.

Let us look at the snippets of news from the last few days:

Women senators who have been up in arms against the controversial family law Bill, which they say will lead to erosion of their rights, will have no choice but to vote for it.

All talk of breaking ranks to vote against the Bill dissipated after Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz spoke to them in small groups before talking to a group of 25 senators, including the 19 women.

Anxious to ensure that Barisan Nasional senators toe the line, he warned that he was invoking the Whip and ordered the 19 Barisan women senators to vote for the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 when it comes up for debate today.”

Yeah , right Nazri!!!!! Well done! But, a touch heavy handed, don’t you think?

And let us look at what’s causing the concern:

"1) The right of a husband to claim a share of his existing wife's property upon his committing polygamy
Husbands have an equal right to a wife's property; likewise she has a claim to joint property acquired during their marriage.

2) Making polygamy easier for men
While a husband may be able to prove that his proposed marriage is necessary, he does not have to prove it to be just.

3) Forcing a wife to choose either maintenance OR division of joint property upon a husband's polygamous marriage
Syariah law makes it mandatory for husbands to provide maintenance for a wife throughout their marriage. Islamic law entitles her to both.

4) Enhancing the husband's right to divorce
This gives an additional right to divorce for the husband, which used to be the prerogative of the wife; he may escape paying any form of compensation.

5) Allowing a husband to get a court order to stop his wife from disposing of her property
The husband has no right to his wife's property since she is not obliged to provide maintenance for him or his children. That is his responsibility.”

And what did our Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil say?

"It is necessary for us to take one step backwards so we can move 10 steps ahead. We have to look at the bigger picture," she said at the Parliament lobby while a group of women senators nodded in agreement. Also present was Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Shudder! Shudder!

I just couldn’t describe the feelings I had yesterday – but disappointment and despair should sum it up. I am disappointed that with all the outspoken, vocal, intelligent women that we have, we are still taking steps backwards. Shouldn’t be we fighting and protecting one of our own rather then let heavy handed men bully us into agreeing to anything? Haven’t we seen enough injustice as it is – even without those five humiliating clauses above?

I just depair because, whenever anyone here talks about the injustice of Islamic law allowing men to marry more than one, I will always defend it, quoting well quoted quotes about being fair, about being caring to all parties concerned. And most importantly, I say, I am proud that at least in Malaysia, there are laws to protect women, wives, whose husbands want to take on a second or third wife. Other than having to prove that they can be fair in dishing out their money and love and attention (which is of course a joke), they also have to ask for the permission of the first wife. Now, this can still sound very strange to non Muslims. Whaaat? You mean, the first wife will still accept that?

And, I proudly tell them, there are even wives – first wives – who do go and ask for the hands of the intended to be her husband’s second wife. More clanging of jaws on the floor!

But, what I didnt tell them is that of course, when hubby takes second or third wife and all are hunkydorry with schedules and time tables stipulated, are the stories that I heard about hubbies sneaking back to new wife’s bordoir, even when it is not her turn on the schedule. Where is the justice in this?

And now, when the husband entertains thoughts of taking on another one, he can now claim his first wife’s existing property??? And I foolishly thought that what a woman earns is hers and what the man earns is for both of them to share. Now, does it mean he can take her share and share it with his new whats’it?

What happens to the wife who follows the husband overseas to study – works her butt out to finance him and upon returning home, suddenly she doesnt seem to fit in with his crowd anymore. Suddenly, he looks at her and she has let herself go. Why, because she has been working her butt out to support him – to see that he gets the qualifications to climb the corporate ladder. And when he takes a second wife, he is entitled to whatever she earns? *& )(*&^!! Yes, sorry, this is because I have seen these before too.

Let’s not even talk about making poligamy easier.

I have seen enough who sheepishly come to London to solemnise their second or third – the imams here do not ask for the first wife’s letter of consent. It is thus their duty to register when they go home.

One wife who suspected her husband’s intentions, contacted all registry offices and finally found out. She nearly killed herself and her child. Perhaps she had not been paying attention much to the husband because all her life was devoted to a child born with Down’s Syndrome. Such is life.

I might not be making much sense as I am quite, quite angry still . No, I am furious. Let us voice out our concerns – if not for ourselves, for our nieces, daughters and our sisters in Islam.

Also pls see Mak Andeh.
For analysis by Suhaini Aznam, pls read:

That's it Zai! Give him an earful!
Posted by Picasa
Picture taken from The Star - sorry - pinjam


Anonymous said...


Sharina Maamor said...

hi kak teh. first time here :)

it is a shame to witness such undemocratic behaviour from the ministry on this. to actually pass the bill when so many others disagree with it.. tsk tsk.. im appalled!

MA said...

Kak Teh :

I echo Larawannabe.

It's a total shame.

Total SHAME.

Anonymous said...

grrrrr!!!kata nefertiti sambil mengasah parang untuk memb*bitt sapa2 yang patut.

Kak Teh said...

atiza - thanks!
larawannabe, welcome to choc-a-blog - yes, it is a crying shame. We are still being bullied and we are still taking it!
MA - recruit lagi!

Anonymous said...

apa kita mau buat kak? is there nothing we can do? maybe we ought to organise a silent walk through KL? will they haul us all into jail?


Happy first anniversary Choc-a-blog.Your articles are great articles, Kak Teh. May there be more anniversaries to come. Now let's move on to a more pressing matter. The Bill. Well, with this now passed, sad to say that the world will look at Malaysian women as opressed women. No longer can I look at foreigners straight into their eyes and tell them that polygamy has its pros and cons. Now it looks as though its only bad news. I was telling them that polygamy hinders the men from continuing to commit adultery,but at the same time, I did say that muslim men just uses that excuse to get fresher flesh and yg lebih ketat. Berapa ramai sgt la laki2 yg kawin dgn janda2 utk selamatkan depa dari difitnah macam di zaman Nabi dulu. They marry because of lust. Nothing more, nothing less.Now with the bill out, I'm not sure of what to say anymore. I can't justify polygamy in the eyes of non-muslims. Somehow, am not so sure of anything at the moment. I feel as though muslim women have no say. As though we just have to leave it to fate, or rather the Bill. Sigh....

Queen Of The House said...

I wonder if equality as WE see it is different from what THEY (the men/ministers) see it? I guess the main problem is it's the men who are making up these laws. Sad to think that it actually puts us Msian women a few steps backward.

Kak Teh said...

anon, I cant be involved in a silent march - cos I want to scream blue murder!!!
pu1pu3, thanks and well said - I feel the same - how do we face them and say we are not the oppressed?
QOTH - yes, and i thought we have gone leaps and bounds...

Jane Sunshine said...

I just found out about this appalling legislation a few days ago. It is a matter that affects the dignity of women in Malaysia and the entire legal system. The Act essentially hurls us back into a legal dark-age.

The rationale behind the legislation appears to be standardisation of syariah laws in all the states. The only standardisation I think it achieves is the subjugation of Malaysian women. The Act should be renamed Facilitation of Polygamy Act 2005. What baffles me is how did the Bill get passed at the Dewan Rakyat stage? Are all the elected MPs such buffoons?

And the senators should be hanging their heads in shame for cowering under Nazri's 'threat'.The whole idea of having a bicameral parliament (2 tiers with the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, the senate) is for a two-tiered scrutiny to ensure that parliamentary bills are perused with acute care and fairness. In the light of this, we might as well do away with the senate entirely.

I wonder what the NGOs have been doing? Did Sisters in Islam and AWAM make any statement/take action? I have more faith in them than Sharizat. The statement she has made is utter rubbish (and she is a lawyer). Is this what power does to you -toe the line and become brain dead?

Or perhaps this is some variation of Islam Hadhari which I wasn't aware of? And there I was...almost lulled into placidity by being fed with all this moderate Islamic ideas.

All that I can say is that our leaders have failed us. A dark day for Malaysian women.

*Sorry for the long comment KT. I am venting*

Anonymous said...

kak teh

YM me please!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kak Teh,
Happy Anniversary, Choc a Blog. I love your blog and the many musings. As a Malay woman abroad, I am shocked at the Bill that was passed.

Sedih. I wonder what the ulamak's views are on this.

enough of bs


know what?after my hubby read ,my coomenthere, he said"so, kawin janda boleh lah?".Adoi...

Jane Sunshine said...

Update: Maybe Sharizat is doing something after all and I will be glad if she is. What is the point in having a swanky Women, Family and Community Development Ministry otherwise? See

Kak Teh said...

Jane - well said!! And let's hope Shahrizat do something - if not we will be SO SO SO disappointed.
lil ms d - i did.
anon, thanks for dropping by - yes - enough of bs. we may be abroad but we care.
pu1pu3 - haha - heard of Bobbit?

Jane Sunshine said...

Kak Teh: I am almost becoming a spammer! Happy holidays, happy blog-versary and 26th Anniversary! Wow. Please blog about secret to marital happiness. And do let me know when the london 'convention' is happening. We'll meet up. Miss you loads.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
What can a woman in Malaysia do to protest this law? Is there a grassroot movement to address this in Malaysia? I for one, have always thought that poligamy is evil - and yes, I am a muslimah. The one most important qualifying clause of "but if you fear of not being fair, than only one...." is often overlook. How sad.

Sign me out of touch.

Anonymous said...

just a thought, perhaps should introduce pre-nuptial agreement as in the west??

Unknown said...

Happy Annivesary Choc-a-Blog Blog.
I was really upset when I read about it. Now we know the true colors of those 19 senators. Not a pretty sight.
Have a beautiful holiday/New Year

AuntyN said...

Kak Teh : Happy Wedding and Choc-a-blog Annivessaries. Can only say this, what about those uninformed women?

dith said...

Few things I need to clarify here:
1) The right of a husband to claim a share of his existing wife's property upon his committing polygamy-

Why does this right need to arise at all? when we know a wife's property is hers whether he is mono or polygamous??

3)Forcing a wife to choose either maintenance OR division of joint property upon a husband's polygamous marriage

I dont understand why a woman has to make that choice after a polygamous marriage when she's entitled for both no matter what?

4) and 5) are also mind-boggling.

Kak teh, why do you think all these ridiculous amendments came up?? I'm sure this is 'deeper' than it seemed!

Anonymous said...

As a malay, Muslim, Malaysian woman, I feel oh so protected in my own country... NOT!

Since not much fuss is being kicked up by the NGO's ... yet ( to give them the benefit of the doubt)... the least they cld do is to promote pre-nupts amongst women who wish to get married. If compulsory HIV screening has to be carried out to protect the people from the AIDS virus, why not encourage pre-nupts to protect the people, males and females from bloodsucking leaches.

The least that these sisters of mercy could do now is to start a campaign for single women to find themselves filthy rich husbands who can keep them as tai-tais so as to ensure that the husbands don't get to leach off their money in cases of divorce and to innoculate themselves for when the husbands get infected by this disease called MIANGEX NAK BERBINIOME LAGI!

I really wanted to end this post with something stupidly corny like 'girl power' or some 5hit of the like... but this is so unfunny...

to the female senators I have this to say....

I hope to God that ur laki cari bini lain and screws ur hard earned $ (most of them are lawyers u see)or better yet the $ that ur rich dads left u...

to Nazeri and the rest of u pr7cks in the senate who sealed my fate and those of my sisters, I have this to say...

I hope to God that u ... u... u... get STD and ur d7ck5 wld fall off!!!! ( initially I wanted to wish that their moms and sisters and daughters and grand-daughters get scwewed over by their husbands... but then maybe I shld become a senator and screw my own kind...).

Gosh, I failed politics at school but the ONE that I did learn is that ALL politicians are crooks!

Pardon my Malay Kak Teh... am not so bangga of my bangsa right now...

But to switch gears... happy anniversary to choc-o-blog and to u and Mr.kak teh too...


Not gonna do no bobbit for hubby. Still need it.hahahah...*Wink wink*

dith said...

Kak Teh,
Maybe you'd like to see the actual Amendment here:

marina said...

I echo MA... A TOTAL SHAME. We are still living in a man's world after all *sigh*

On other things... Heard u passed. Congrats!!! Me too :)

Oh yes... Happy anniversary!!

Anonymous said...

Let's all sembahyang hajat and pray that Allah will lift away all the injustices that we perceive is happening to women. Let Allah be the judge.

nadya.s said...


many2 great years ahead.

..kak teh kena start subscibe to ebrowse la.very cheap and can get all major newspaper from malaysia.

Ewok said...

Dang!! I am still boiling about the f*****g bill. Sorry for swearing here but .... Errrrrrgggghhhh!

btw, happy birthday Choc-a-blog!

Itchy said...

Nazri tu mmg STOOPIDD...

Bergen said...

Ladies, I'm just here to wish Kak Teh a happy new year. This Law here has nothing to do with me because I ain't getting married tomorrow. Bye. Pheew.

Anonymous said...

this is what happen when human try to overwrite god's rule, nanti semua jadi tunggang terbalik. sad but happening *shidah*

Anonymous said...

Salam... the last comment I made was made while I was flitting in and out of consciousness from a whole day berkenduri and a tummy- full of kas-kas. I beg ur pardon for sounding like some ignorant buffoon... In this cold light of morning I am trying hard to see the logic behind the ammendments... but it's still escaping me... Would anyone care to enlighten me?

Mutiara said...

tryiing hard to type with one left hand finger, but i want to say happy anniversaries to a good marriage and good blogging.
about the bill, iam just speechless and so ashamed with the women ministers, and shame on them.

meandbaby said...

I thought the more women in the parliament, nasib wanita akan lebih terbela...ini tak..lagi kena buli ada ni org lain pun tak bersuara,,even surat khabar pun bagi laporan gitu-gitu tu je...isu nih tak far i've not read any comments from our ustazahs or ustaz about this...sedih!sedih!..apa nak jadi..

LifeBloom said...

To Kak Teh's Choc-a -Blog

Happy 1st Birthday & Many Happy Returns!

Here's to many2x more lovely and insightful entries making us all smile and think deeper about whats
really matters in life...:-))

KT (apology in advance because geram sgt dah ni!!)

Its a real shame about whats happening with the repeal of the Family Law et al. But what's really appalling and downright shocking is the way the voices of women in the Houses of Parliament who are representing mothers, daughters, sisters of MEN are patronised and condescended. As if it were not enough, they are then subjected to the humility of having to contribute to the so-called "unanimous" vote...!!

Tu belum the so called "law" in operation lagi! How many stories and cases of injustice of women do we need to hear until REAL legislative improvement can happen???

May Allah SWT guide us through this test.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Choc-a-blog blog :)

KakTeh..when I saw Madam Zai from Sisters In Islam talked to the Minister, I sure hope she put some sense to some one who has 3 wives...and my sister is still fighting for her 20 years off maintenance money from her ex and now this? Gosh!


Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
I am amazed that there is no offical view from the ulamak / religious leaders. Memang sedih. They have an accountability, amanah, to guide us and if they can't change anything, at least, don't keep us in the dark. Who do we have to look for guidance? The world is indeed coming to an End.

reen al hady

Sidah Salleh said...

kak teh, sakit dah my kepala pikir mende ni. lagi dipikir lagi rasa cam nak tumbuk-tumbuk muka pakcik nazri tu. isy... entah apa diorang pikir tah...

Dian said...

A'kum Kak Teh,
Firstly, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY CHOC-A-BLOG BLOG! Only one year? You seem like such a seasoned blogging pro already!

Secondly, on THE BILL. As my hubby said, so far all the people commenting on the bill in the papers are not exactly religious scholars who really understand the intricacies of the system, although I don't understand why Nazri has to insist that all the BN senators go along with the Party line. Are we a democracy or a dictatorship?

Kak Teh said...

Thank you all for your comments.
Jane - yes - will let you know.
anon - yes, that phrase has always been overlooked. Grassroot movement? Not that iknow of -and even if there is one - it'll be bullied into submission.
anon2 - is pre nup acceptable? I dont lnow abt these - but sounds like a good idea.
anasalwa, thank you for your kind wishes. Yes, am disappointed too that the 19 women senators submitted - one shd have sacrificed herself and create a revolt.
auntyN - the uninformed? even the informed act like one.
DITH - it is indeed mindbloggling!!

Kak Teh said...

noni!!! - I give this space to you! Have your say cos I am behind you all the way with your arguments. Am no soo bangga as well.
marina - thanks! yes I passed - just about!
Nura - let us doa that the amendments will be made soon so that no women will fall victim.
nadya - thanks
ewok - yes - come back first lah!!
utter rubbish - u took the words out of my mouth!
bergen - thanks - and tread carefully, my dear!
nonie - you are welcome, again..
mutiara- u can also use that one finger to show to those who humiliatad us this way . thanks.
meandbaby - how true - where are the ulamaks?
lifebloom - it is indeed a crying shame - but we must not let them rest!
TTG - i think Zai and her sisters must do more -
PS - if you do - deliver one from me!
dian - thanks . democracy? I dont think those in that room ever heard of it.
reen - i feel so sad and humiliated by all these.

Anonymous said...

alamak kak teh... u don't lah invite-invite like that... now my itchy trigger fingers ni nak menaip aje... kang sampai esok tak abis... even my own blog pun berjela jela discussion on this topic alone... much of it is one- sided of course... namely MY side... hehe...

but since I am sleepy and ur shoving a pillow my way...

“They are free to debate and speak their mind, but when it comes to a vote, they have to follow,” Nazri told a hastily called press conference... WHAT THE HEYY KIND OF FREEDOM IS THAT??? For that matter its like telling a woman, "u r free to go naked under ur burqa!"

I was under the impression that the reason for having a bicameral goverment system was for check and balance, for a more refined and critical scrutiny of all laws that are to be passed. My question is how could it have been passed at the Dewan Rakyat in the first place? Who r these MP's that we elected? R none of them women who might somehow feel for other women? R none of them men who might see the injustice in it?

Now wouldn't ammending the ammendment be an unadulterated waste of precious politician time that could be better utilized making sure that errant ex-husbands are chased after for their default child-support payments? Why pass it in the first place only to revoke it later?

I understand that I have not the slightest inkling of what the women senators had to go through. But I have a problem with all these smart and professional individuals who could get their arms twisted in the manner that they were.

We have women ministers in the cabinet. What will they do in light of this I wonder, when they r not giving out APs to their granchildren's tutor's neighbour's dog that is...

Shahrizat says that the decision to rush the Bill through despite the acknowledgement that it was defective was to honour the agreement between the Government and the Rulers Council in 2003 when both parties agreed to standardise Syariah laws in the country. RUSHED she says... in the meantime yet another woman is going to get screwed over...

OKlah to be fair let me paste this link...

OK... penat dah... excuse me while I go burn my bra...

Anonymous said...

errrks... am probably gagging everyone with my over-exposure, but i'd like to add one more thing... I would really like to know justification that allows for a husband to take from his wife from the syariah perspective, the prophet Muhammad's(PBUH)syariah ... if there is any firman or hadith. I am sure I have not seen the whole picture. I am still trying to understand and giving the government that i entrust to run my beloved country the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

Shahrizat? Hah! I'm still waiting for her to make good two of her many many berjela2 promises she put forward in her manifesto half a decade ago when she was made minister.
1. to give equal rights women to have their foreign spouses live in Malaysia
2. to give right of citizenship to children of Malaysian women born outside of Malaysia.

Unknown said...

kak teh,

Happy Anniversaries.

I normally do not agree with Zainah and Sisters in Islam, however, I share their concern on this particular bill.

This issue should be properly discussed and debated in public forums before being tabled into the Dewan.

Anonymous said...

I wish that women in our country can be treated fairly. Maybe we should ask Yusof Qaradawi or ulama Al Azhar about this. This is such a sensitive issue, because it is about what is right and permitted in our religion, not what we weak humans want or fancy, at the spur-of-the-moment.

As a Muslim woman, I want to get the proper guidance so that I may be able to practise my religion to the best of my abilities, God willing. I hope someone will voice up on this matter.

Left in the Dark Ages

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
This is what I found in Sisters in Islam website - for the Malay woman who wants to see some justice done.

Hantar jangan tak hantar !

Wanita Melayu kat Kampong

dee3 said...

i echo jiwarasa.

the bill is a shame.
the 19 female senators are merely tagging along?
our female rights are non-existent due to the bill, thus
our democracy is farce?

in order for me to marry, what guarantees are there that the husband doesnt go off with no.2 with half of whatever property i have?

what CAN we women do to be heard?
if the women empowered in the cabinet cant do anything, will people power contribute anything?
most prob'ly not.

anyways, on a different note, happy 1st aniversary for the blog, and happy 26th wedding aniversary, ya kak teh? :)

Anonymous said...

what to say? like most things here, laws and amendments are passed before there is any proper debate on the issue. It has become quite the norm ...