Is Tan Sri Halim Saad's Weekend Marriage Legal In Malaysia?
The Renong chairman, Tan Sri Halim Saad, married the niece of the finance minister's new kid on the corporate block, in a glittering wedding in Singapore over the weekend.  Bolehland's best and brightest turned up for the glittering show that one comes to expect when corporate tycoons running away from their bankers decide to take a new wife.  Which is exactly what Tan Sri Halim did.  Renong is a leading Malaysian conglomerate in more ways than one:  it is officially favoured, it has debts it cannot repay, but it continues to get contracts galore from a grateful government -- it has just got a contract to build a dam in Singapore.  But its corporate jets have disappeared, and money does not flow like water any more, it is more like urine flowing from one suffering from prostate problems.

The  grand show put on for the wedding served more than one purpose:  besides the uniting of lovebirds after the Tan Sri's messy divorce in which his ex-wife wants to take him to the cleaners, it is also a warning and signal to those who have doubts about the long term viability of Renong and its sister-company, UEM, that all is well.

     But reading through the press reports about the wedding, one thing struck me.  There is no mention anywhere in these reports of his marriage under shariah laws.  The impression one gets -- and I showed the reports to several Muslim friends -- is that it is a civil wedding.

With the Prime Minister insisting in his speeches around the country that PAS is not Islamic, how could such a wedding take place without paying homage to Islam as the country's official religion?  Unless, of course, the Muslim ceremony took place in Malaysia.  As far as I know, that did not take place.  I could, of course, be mistaken.  But given the high prominence of the wedding in Singapore, it is fair to assume that a similar wedding in Malaysia would have been as high profile. The Prime Minister, who dismissed a deputy prime minister because he believed he went against Muslim sensibilities, cannot have this become an electoral issue.  When I called a PAS ulamak friend to check on this, it was he who raised the question before I did.  This means that until and unless Tan Sri Halim Saad comes clean and is unequivocal about his Muslim marriage, the fallout would be worse than his messy divorce from his first wife.

     In the highest reaches of Bolehland's corporate and political world, marriages are made not in heaven but in bank and corporate parlours. Tan Sri Halim, 45, married a Singapore lawyer working in Malaysia, Shaesta Said, who is 25 or 29 (depending on whether you want to believe AFP or Bernama), a niece of Dato' Akhbar Khan, the latest entrant in the highstakes contest to acquire the most debt in the  shortest possible time.  He is one of three parties attempting to take
control of the CLOB Malaysian shares, which fell foul of the KLSE's re-registering them.  Tan Sri Halim is chairman of the Renong-UEM combine which with Telekoms is the third entrant.  Given the way these things work in Bolehland, the Prime Minister is outclassed in this affair.  Both Tan Sri Halim and Dato' Akhbar Khan are acolytes of the Penghulu;  while the second of the three proposals is submitted by Tengku Abdullah, whose relationship with the Prime Minister is well known;  unless he can come with a brighter plan, the Pengulu now marches ahead in the grand plan to acquire the suspended Malaysian shares.

The arrogance with which these things are conducted is the stuff of Bolehland legend.  Tan Sri Halim Saad must come clean on the status of his Muslim marriage, where it was held and when.  Especially when it is the official view in Malaysia that a marriage between Muslims, one of whom is a Malaysian, overseas is not recognised unless it is conducted according to Muslim rites.

M.G.G. Pillai