KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – An Islamic court sentenced a senior Malaysian politician to a month in prison on Wednesday for taking a second wife without the permission of his first wife.

Muslims are allowed to take up to four wives in Malaysia and the multiple marriage has become more popular with a “polygamy club” being set up, although it remains a minority practice in this mainly Muslim country in Southeast Asia.

But the man must ask the permission of his current wife before taking another, and she must agree before the second marriage is considered legal.

Bung Mokhtar, 51, is deputy president of the parliamentarians’ club of the National Front coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 52 years. He was also fined 1,000 ringgit ($310.8) in addition to the jail sentence.

“The accused had bad intentions and had toyed with the marriage solemnization process and the rules of polygamy according to shariah law,” Judge Wan Mahyuddin Wan Muhammad said, according to news portal Malaysiakin (www.malaysiakini.com).

Bung was charged along with his second wife, actress “Zizie” Izette Abdul Samad, aged 31, who was also fined.

Malaysia runs a dual legal system with secular courts running alongside shariah courts for the majority Muslim population dealing with breaches of Islamic laws.

The Islamic courts shot to prominence when a woman was sentenced to caning for drinking beer last year, although the sentence was later commuted.

Bung’s lawyers have asked for a lesser sentence of just a fine, as it was his first offence.

Groups such as Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian advocacy organization that aims to promote the rights of women, have condemned polygamy and there were protests against the practice outside the courtroom.

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