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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 15:04 GMT
Malaysian worry over imported brides

Looking back home for a bride of their choice
By Frances Harrison in Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian Government has urged the country's Indian Muslims not to go abroad to find wives for fear that local women are being left on the shelf.

Deputy Home Minister Zainal Abidin Zin said the trend of going to India to find brides was causing great hardship for local girls in the community.

According to the Malaysian Indian Muslim Youth Movement, nearly every family in their community has had problems marrying off a daughter.

They say the reason is that eligible bachelors tend to go back to India to find brides.

But other members of this minority community say the real reason there is an abundance of spinsters is overly fussy parents arranging the marriages.

Better qualified

Indian Muslim girls born in Malaysia tend to be better educated than their male counterparts who are more likely to join the family business than go to university.

Parents are unwilling to accept a groom with lower educational qualifications and they do not want to look abroad for husbands, because they want their daughters to stay close to them in Malaysia.


Malaysians are being asked to marry locally
And many parents don't just want an educated Indian Muslim man for their daughter but will also narrow the field by insisting the groom comes from the same locality in India - sharing a common cuisine, dialect and cultural tradition.

In a small community of about half a million people, it is not surprising a suitable boy is hard to come by.

By contrast, Indian Hindus who are far more numerous, find it easier to find local partners though some still do look abroad.

That's a trend Malaysia seems keen to discourage with the deputy Home Minister, Zainal Abidin Zin, warning Malaysians to marry locally to avoid visa and citizenship problems for foreign spouses.

It can take at least 10 years for a foreign wife to be eligible to apply for Malaysian citizenship.

The minister says instilling national pride in foreigners is a long process.
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29 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia sends illegal immigrants home
03 Jan 98 | Business
Malaysia considers deportations
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