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.
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.