KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) - Malaysia's Immigration Department has expressed concerns over the rise in the number of marriages of young foreign men with older local women, a news report said Sunday.
Some of the marriages involve women more than three times the age of the foreigners, with authorities warning that such unions may be merely a way for the men to obtain Malaysian citizenship, the newspaper report said.
In an incident involving a 19-year-old foreign man and his 60-year-old bride, the couple had cited "love at first sight" as the reason for their marriage, the department's spokesman Ahmad Shukri Abdul Majid was quoted by the Malay-language Berita Harian daily as saying.
Immigration officials have launched an investigation into the background of the couple, including the "questionable" intentions of the groom, Ahmad told the newspaper.
He said most of the foreigners involved were from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan and added that the main reason given by local women for marrying the men was that they resembled India's Bollywood actors.
Ahmad said that such weddings would be screened by immigration officials before they could be given the go-ahead, and said that many cases were of foreign workers hoping to obtain a permanent Malaysian residentship by marrying a local.
"Their tactic is to try and marry on the seventh year that they are here, because that is the maximum period which foreign workers are allowed to work in this country," he said.
The department also revealed that a total of 45,274 local men had married foreign women last year, with females from Indonesia topping the list of being the most "popular" life-partner of choice, followed by Thailand, India, the Philippines, Singapore and China.