KUCHING: Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said a secretariat would be formed under her ministry to re-look at conflicting provisions between the Civil Court, Syariah Court and the Native Court in Sarawak.
She added a proposal would be tabled to enable the Native Court to be on par with the Civil Court and Syariah Court in terms of jurisdiction and power.
“There is a need to re-look at conflicting provisions between each of these courts. This is especially so on the minimum age for marriage,” said Fatimah at a press conference in her office yesterday, which was also attended by Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project
Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Assistant Minister of Native Laws and Customs Datuk John Sikie Tayai and Sarawak Native Customs Council head Datu Ganie Ugay.
Under the civil law, those between the ages of 16 and 18 years can be married with the consent of the chief minister, while under the Native Court there is no mention of the minimum age.
Other issues which could arise from conflicting laws, she mentioned, would be the maintenance of the former wife and the quantum of maintenance for children, which had become more pressing due to the rising cost of living.
On another note, she revealed that the Native Marriage Electronic System (Names) implemented in November 2010 could be used to double check the status of an individual, who is either married or divorced according to ‘adat’ (customary law).
In the first four months of this year, a total of 3,530 individuals were checked under the system – 165 are found to be married, while 91 are divorced under the customary law.
“This is to protect the womenfolk and their children when it comes to divorce cases as their welfare is our top priority,” she added.
Meanwhile, new or current administrative officers in the state will be required to be conversant in legal matters, as well to sit for a law exam.
“This will enable them to perform effectively including the presiding of cases in court,” she said.