Outspoken and controversial Kinabatangan Member of Parliament (MP) escaped jail term for unlawfully entering a polygamous marriage after an Islamic court Wednesday decided to only fine him.

Malaysian lawmaker Bung Mokhtar Radin, left, wipes tears from his eyes after he has escaped going to jail for entering a polygamous marriage without official consent, as his second wife Zizie Ezette looks on at an Islamic High Court in Shah Alam, Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

Bung Mokhtar Radin, a 50-year-old was sentenced in May to one month in prison for marrying a second wife without obtaining the Islamic Shariah court’s permission.

After Bung Mokhtar appealed the sentence, a Shariah High Court judge ruled Wednesday it was too harsh because he was a first-time offender, said his lawyer, Amli Embong.

The politician, who married a 31-year-old Zizie Izette in December, was instead ordered to pay the maximum fine of 1,000 ringgit ($300), Amli said.

A lower Islamic court judge previously ruled that Bung Mokhtar should be jailed to warn people to respect Shariah law and to take marriage regulations more seriously.

Polygamy is a contentious issue for some Malaysian Muslims. Women’s groups have campaigned for stricter laws to deter men from frivolously entering polygamous marriages, saying the practice undermines the well-being of wives and children.

Activists estimate polygamous unions in Malaysia account for about 5 per cent of all new marriages every year.