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Second reading of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnization and Registraton of Marriages) Bill

Closing speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs in Parliament

Mr Speaker,

  1. I would like to thank the Members for supporting this Bill and address the questions raised on Muslim marriages.
  2. Since the start of the Circuit Breaker on 7 April, close to 200 Muslim couples have had to postpone their solemnization and registration plans, to reduce the risk of community transmissions of COVID-19. For these couples, the disruption has been disappointing as marriage is a major life event, and we thank them for their civic-mindedness in putting the collective safety of Singaporeans first.
  3. With this Bill, the intention is to leverage available technology to give couples the option of continuing with their marriage solemnization and registration, even as we continue to observe stringent social distancing measures. To answer Dr Intan’s question, ROMM will train and assist Kadis and Naib Kadis, to ensure they are able to use remote technology during this period. As part of the approval process, the Registrar must check that the parties have the necessary technical facilities where they reside. Couples who are not eligible for these remote processes may still apply for in-person solemnizations when it is safe to do so.  Regardless, I would like to stress that even for those who qualify for video link solemnizations, physical receptions and celebratory gatherings must continue to be postponed until it is safe.
  4. Throughout our fight against COVID-19, Singaporeans have had to change our usual ways and adopt new social norms. In our community, we adapted the way we salam to minimise human contact and avoided congregational prayers in the mosques during this period. The adaptations we have made to our social and religious norms do not make us any less of a Muslim, and similarly, adaptations to the way we conduct Muslim marriage processes do not mean that we do not observe religious imperatives.
  5. Mr Speaker, in Malay, please.
  6. Dr Intan juga bertanya sama ada langkah-langkah sementara ini mengambil kira syarat pernikahan dari segi agama, dan juga sama ada pernikahan secara dalam pautan video sah di sisi agama. Akta Pentadbiran Undang-undang Islam atau AMLA bertujuan untuk memudahkan kehidupan beragama umat Islam di Singapura. Saya ingin memberi jaminan kepada Dewan ini bahawa pindaan-pindaan yang diusulkan memenuhi tujuan tersebut. Pemerintah telah merujuk kepada Pejabat Mufti, yang telahpun mengeluarkan Irsyad yang menyatakan bahawa penggunaan pautan video tidak akan menjejas kesahan pernikahan tersebut dari segi agama. ROMM juga akan menyediakan garis panduan bagi para Kadi dan Naib Kadi mengenai cara mengendalikan akad nikah melalui pautan video.
  7. Saya juga gembira kerana para asatizah kita mengambil langkah-langkah progresif dan praktikal untuk memenuhi keperluan masyarakat Islam Singapura dalam masa-masa yang mencabar ini. Ini seiringan dengan perkembangan dalam masyarakat Islam di merata dunia. Misalnya, di India, Indonesia, Emiriah Arab Bersatu (UAE) dan Malaysia, pasangan Islam sudahpun melaksanakan pernikahan dengan menggunakan teknologi jarak jauh.
  8. Pandemik COVID-19 telah menimbulkan cabaran yang luar biasa kepada kita semua. Namun, bersama-sama, kita akan terus berusaha sebaik mungkin untuk mengurangkan gangguan terhadap kehidupan rakyat Singapura, tanpa menjejas keselamatan kita bersama.
  9. Mr Speaker, I support this Bill, and would like to call on Members of the House to do the same. Thank you. 

    English translation of Malay speech
  1. Dr Intan also asked whether these temporary measures account for the religious aspects of a marriage and will video link marriages be regarded as religiously valid. The spirit of the Administration of Muslim Law Act is to facilitate the religious way of life for Muslims in Singapore. I assure the House that the proposed amendments keep to this spirit. The Government consulted the Office of the Mufti who has since issued an Irsyad stating that video link arrangements will not affect the religious validity of a marriage. ROMM will also provide guidelines to the Kadis and Naib Kadis on how to conduct solemnizations through video link.
  2. I am also heartened that our asatizah are taking progressive and practical solutions steps to meet the needs of Muslims in Singapore during these challenging times.  This is in line with developments in Muslim communities around the world. In India, Indonesia, the UAE and Malaysia, for example, Muslim couples have begun to embrace the use of remote technology for solemnizations too.
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge, but together, we will do our best to minimise disruptions to the lives of Singaporeans, without compromising our collective safety. 

Last updated on 05 May 2020