Love across borders: Malaysian women flock to southern Thailand for forbidden unions

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In a surprising trend, Malaysian women, primarily from the East Coast states, are crossing borders to tie the knot with foreign nationals in southern Thailand.

The Narathiwat Islamic Council revealed that 90% of these brides were widows, seeking love and legality beyond their homeland.

Vice-president Abdul Aziz Che Mamat unveiled the reasons behind this cross-border love affair.

“The most common reason is that these women lack permission from their families to marry foreigners. Additionally, issues such as the absence of a guardian (wali) and the straightforward marriage procedures set by Thai religious authorities contribute to this unconventional trend.”

Aziz Che Mamat disclosed that Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia were the preferred destinations for Malaysian women seeking foreign companionship.

“It cannot be denied that a considerable number of Malaysian women have travelled to southern Thailand to wed foreign companions in recent years.”

The Narathiwat Islamic Council documented a minimum of two to three cases monthly, with the surge in mixed marriages traced back to two years ago, gaining momentum post the Covid-19 pandemic. The council clarified its stance, expressing approval for Malaysian unions in the province as long as proper procedures were followed.

Amid the trend, a Malaysian woman, Azizah (pseudonym), shared her unconventional love story. A food stall owner in Jerteh, Terengganu, Azizah married a Pakistani man named Malik in Sungai Golok town in 2020. A widow with a six year old daughter, Azizah faced familial opposition but stood firm in her choice.

“We married in southern Thailand about two years ago, without my family’s blessing or a wali, facing numerous challenges. Despite the odds, we entered matrimony and were blessed with a child.”

However, the Narathiwat Islamic Council’s vice-president cautioned couples to be wary of fake Thai imams, especially along the Kelantan/Thailand border. He assured that efforts had been made to eliminate phoney imams more than a year ago, reported New Straits Times.

Widows rush to remarry

In a related twist, reports surfaced on January 8 about women in Kelantan turning to foreign men, particularly widows or spinsters, to escape the stigma of being unmarried. Some financially secure women were reportedly offering attractive incentives, including monthly allowances, accommodation, vehicles, and business opportunities, in what is colloquially known as kahwin kontrak or contract marriages.

Following the revelation, the Kelantan government swiftly denied the existence of such marriages, stating that the Islamic Religious Affairs Department had confirmed the absence of contract marriages in the state. The shariah law enforcement division claimed no complaints had been received regarding such unions in Kelantan.

South Thailand NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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