PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 41-year-old Malaysian man who took an 11-year-old Thai girl as his wife denied that it was an act of lust as he had wanted to marry her since she was seven.
BH Online reported the man as saying that they would have already moved in together if he had married her only because of desire, instead of waiting five years for her to turn 16.
The man said he was unsure what made him feel like marrying the girl, but claimed it was not driven by desire.
"I have known Ayu since she was small because we were neighbours, and I also taught her Al-Quran lessons. It was then that I told myself one day, I will take this girl as my wife and I did so four years later," he said.
The man told BH Online that his marriage to the girl had only shocked the outside world, as his friends and most of the people in his village in Kelantan in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia had agreed to the union.
He said he had shown his friends a picture of the girl while he was in Mecca and they gave their blessings as she was not in school and had come from a poor family. He reiterated his claim that he wanted to protect Ayu and provide for her.
"When news of our marriage spread, only outsiders were shocked because most of the villagers and my friends knew about it for a while," he was quoted as saying.
He added: "I realised many are scolding and criticising me but they are outsiders who don't know me or Ayu's family."
The man also hoped that all three of his wives would live together in love and harmony. However, all three have not met as he wanted to "protect his first and second wives' emotions".
"I promise to steer our household well. Stop insulting us, but instead pray for our happiness together," he said.
On July 10, the Gua Musang Syariah court let off the man with a mere RM1,800 (S$605) fine for marrying a minor without prior consent from the court and for engaging in polygamy without permission from his spouse.
His marriage to the child bride in Narathiwat, Thailand, on June 18 went viral when his second wife vented her frustration over social media.
The man had refused to give in to public pressure to have the marriage annulled.