17 April 2007

Polygamous civil servants told to declare marriages

By : Hamidah Atan and Deborah Loh, NST

PUTRAJAYA: Public servants with more than one wife are advised to declare their marriages to avoid problems that may crop up when payment of pension or gratuity is made following their demise.

Public Service Department corporate and communications head Hasniah Rashid said there had been cases of civil servants who died, leaving behind "long-standing conflicts" among their wives.

"They are encouraged to make the declaration to their respective heads of department. If anything happens to them, we know who to get in touch with and the right amount of pension to be paid to the wives."

She was asked whether it was compulsory for civil servants with more than one wife to make such a declaration.

Hasniah said there had been cases where PSD had to revise payment of pension after the "sudden" appearance of a second or third wife, who also demanded for their husband’s pension.
She, however, did not give the statistics, saying that "there are cases".

She also said it was up to the discretion of the heads of department or agency to make the declaration compulsory.

"As far as the PSD is concerned, we only encourage that declaration be made to avoid tussles or disputes between the wives."

Meanwhile, Customs director-general Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid said it was not mandatory for Custom officers with more than one wife to make the declaration.

"However, they are encouraged to declare so that it will be easier for the department to plan transfers on humanitarian ground.

"We want to be considerate to their families. We want to be humane and not separate the families," he said.

A source with the department said a Customs officer, who was arrested by the Thai authorities last week for allegedly trying to smuggle four Myanmars into Thailand, had three wives.

The source said the department was investigating whether the officer had been "doing this" as his side income to maintain his wives.

Investigations revealed that the officer had thought that with a mere wave of his hand, he could smuggle his "cargo" into Thailand. But the Thai Immigration authorities became suspicious upon seeing six men in the car.

Their suspicions were confirmed when they found the officer and another Malaysian trying to smuggle four Myanmars into Thailand.

The 50-year-old Customs officer and his 47-year-old accomplice spent one day in a Thai jail.

The officer, who is based at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah has been suspended pending further investigations, and the state Customs Department would submit a report on the incident to the headquarters here soon.

The Congress of the Civil Service Unions (Cuepacs) welcomes any move to make civil servants with more than one wife to declare their marriages.

Its president, Omar Osman, said Cuepacs was all for the move.

"It is not fair for us to stop them from taking another wife but they should declare their status so that pension, gratuity or the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) can be divided fairly among the wives. This also helps to avoid misunderstandings."

Omar also said PSD had other things to do than waste its time carrying out revisions on the payment to be made to the wives of civil servants who did not declare.

"If they want to marry again and again, but they don’t pose any problem to the PSD or civil service, then it should be okay. But the problem is those who take another wife and create a lot of problems for others.

"Those with more than one wife must be made to declare. It is only fair for them to do so to avoid inconveniencing others."

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