RANTAU PANJANG (Kelantan) • The number of Malaysian men entering polygamous marriages in southern Thailand has risen in the last three years, New Sunday Times (NST) reported.
The registration of such marriages in Thailand's Songkhla district at the Malaysian consulate rose to 4,178 last year. It stood at 4,081 in 2015 and 3,831 in 2014.
The data captures the second or subsequent marriages by Malaysian men with Malaysian or foreign women.
Malaysian men who enter into these marriages often do so in Muslim-dominated southern Thailand towns, with few questions asked by the Muslim authorities there compared with stricter conditions in Malaysia.
Often, the men are also keen to keep the marriages secret from their first wives.
4,178 Number of Malaysian couples registering polygamous marriages in Thailand's Songkhla district last year.
3,831 Number of such marriages in 2014.
NST reported that to cater to the growing demand, the Narathiwat Islamic Council opened a branch in Sungai Golok town last year - just a stone's throw from popular Malaysian shopping town Rantau Panjang in Kelantan.
The council's vice-president Abdul Aziz Che Mamat said the branch was set up under an agreement between Malaysian and Thai Muslim religious authorities, after Malaysians complained over the years that they were cheated by marriage syndicates. The latter often charge high prices and issue fake marriage certificates.
"Many Malaysian couples have complained that they were cheated by syndicates. With the new office here, I hope we can put a stop to this," he told NST.
Mr Abdul said the couples could collect their marriage certificates a week later.