KENINGAU: There is no law preventing a local from marrying a foreigner as long as the foreigner is in possession of a valid travel document.
Keningau District Chief, OKK Mohd Amir Datuk Arif said the parties who wanted to marry must have the marriage registered either with the Native Court or the National Registration Department (NRD).
In the case of Muslim couples, they are required to register their marriages with the Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS), he said at a dialogue with the community policing committee members, native chiefs, village headmen and the chairmen of villages development and security committees (JKKK) here on Thursday. It was attended by 50 community leaders in the district.
Mohd Amir was commenting on a statement by the Kampung Merapuk JKKK chairman Martin Suar that there was a girl in his village who wished to marry a foreigner and most of the village people were against it although her parents did not object.
A marriage between a local and a foreigner could be solemnized as long as the foreign partner was in possession of a valid document allowing him/her to stay in the country.
It was important that the marriage was registered either with the Native Court or with the National Registration Department, he said.
He did not rule out the possibility that there were locals in the district married to foreigners who were in possession of valid documents.
However, the question that arose was whether or not those marriages had been registered with either the Native court or the NRD.
Mohd Amir said the task and responsibility fell upon the community leaders especially the ketua kampung and the chairmen of the JKKK to provide counseling to the local partner in the event the foreign partner in a proposed marriage did not possess any valid legal document.
He said when a local got married to an illegal immigrant, there would be a lot of dire consequences to be faced like the difficulty in obtaining documents for their off springs.
On top of that, legal action could be instituted by the authority against the local partner for harbouring an illegal immigrant.
Meanwhile, the Keningau Immigration Department chief Pengiran Ismail Pengiran Bakar affirmed that a local could marry a foreigner provided the foreigner was in possession of a valid document to stay in the country.
“There is no restriction for a local to marry a foreigner who possesses a document certified as valid by the Immigration Department,” he said.
Pengiran Ismail however warned that a foreigner who was in possession of a mere work pass and wished to marry a local would be directed by the department to return to his country of origin to obtain a valid legal document in the form of a passport.
According to him, only those foreigners who possessed valid documents certified by his department would be allowed to marry a local.
In the event those who did not possess valid documents marry locals, the local partners could be charged in a court of law as having provided protection to an illegal immigrant.
The District Police Chief, Deputy Superintendent Zahari Mohamed who chaired the dialogue had requested all community leaders in the district to be more committed to reduce the presence of illegal immigrants in their respective villages.
“I strongly advise the people in this district to obtain the necessary clarification from the departments concerned such as the Immigration Department, NRD, Jheains and the Native court before hand,” Zahari said.