By Syed Azhar
KOTA BARU, MALAYSIA: A Kelantan lawmaker has a novel answer to the problem of single mothers - she suggests that awards should be given to assemblymen who marry such women.
Without mentioning the nature of the award (anugerah), State Women Family and Health Committee chairman Wan Ubaidah Omar's suggestion drew support from backbenchers who started thumping their palms on the table.
She said the assemblymen could increase their 'quota' to help single mothers who had young children to care for.
Her statement prompted house speaker Nassuruddin Daud to ask Wan Ubaidah to explain the word 'quota'.
"What I meant by 'quota' is adding the number of wives," she said.
Wan Ubaidah was responding to Hassan Mahmood's (PAS - Tawang) question at the Kelantan state assembly on what was being done to reduce the number of divorce cases and help single mothers.
To a supplementary question by Wan Yusuff Wan Mustafa (PAS - Gual Ipoh), Wan Ubaidah said records show there were 16,500 registered single mothers below 60 in Kelantan.
She said one of the dilemmas facing single mothers in Kelantan and the country was that many of them could not register with the Welfare Department or related agencies because their husbands had left them without any divorce papers being filed.
Wan Ubaidah also said she agreed with the call by Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Nik Mat to whip irresponsible husbands who left their wives without good reason.
She said the state government spends RM2mil (S$820,000) annually for the welfare of single mothers who have no other source of income.
The state assembly was told that sand mining at the Kelantan River was still under control and not as widespread as the public perceived.
However, state Housing, Works, Utility and Environment Committee chairman Major (Rtd) Anizam Abdul Rahman said the real problem was that the licence holders failed to pay the necessary fees to extract the sand at the river.
He said the Government recently took several measures to reduce the loss of state revenue by beefing up enforcement.