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Did You Know That It’s Illegal To Name Your Child After A Fruit? 9 Other Surprising Laws In Malaysia

Did you know you can break the law by naming your child after a fruit?

Malaysia is home to many uncommon laws, some nationwide, others exclusive to certain states.

Get acquainted with these 10 laws to avoid accidentally violating them.

#1: Kelantan: No Short-Shorts For Non-Muslims? 

In Kelantan, Muslims are prohibited from wearing short-shorts under Section 34(2)(b) of Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bharu’s (MPKB) Business and Industrial Trade By-Laws 2019. The provision states that Muslim and non-Muslim business owners have to ensure they are dressed decently while at work, and this applies to the employees as well[1].

However, this law is often used to punish non-Muslims as well, as seen with the recent case of a non-Muslim woman who was fined for wearing shorts in the east coast state. 

The unnamed 35-year-old woman, clad in an oversized pink T-shirt and shorts, was issued a fine by the MPKB on Sunday, July 3rd for “indecent attire”.

The woman, who owns a clothing store in the state capital, was found “wearing shorts in public places” by the council’s enforcement officers, said MPKB president Rosnazli Amin[1].

Pictures of the woman holding the paper document of her fine quickly spread across social media, triggering outrage among netizens. They expressed concerns that non-Muslims were held to Muslim standards, despite being told otherwise over the years[1].

It is not just women who are subject to this law; earlier in March of this year, the Kelantan Religious Affairs Department (JHEAIK) issued a warning to seven young men for wearing thigh-length shorts.

The notices were issued during an operation at a shisha outlet in Gertak Chaber, Tanah Merah[2].

Two of the youths were taken aback, realising that wearing shorts was considered an offence in Kelantan. 

Shocked, they admitted they had not known this before. Recounting their encounter with the religious authorities as a nightmare, Zack* still couldn’t understand why he had to go through the ordeal. 

We were caught by surprise…we have been wearing the same shorts all this while without any issues. However, after our encounter with the religious authorities, we feel restless doing anything now. – Zack*, fruit seller[3]

#2: Terengganu: Single Muslim Women Will Be Criminalised For Getting Pregnant

In 2022, the Terengganu state legislative assembly yesterday approved an amendment to the state’s Sharia law. This amendment makes out-of-wedlock pregnancy and childbirth illegal for unmarried Muslim women.

The Shariah criminal offence of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and childbirth became the new Section 29A of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment 2001, which prohibits “an act preparatory to sexual intercourse out of wedlock” with a fine not exceeding RM3,000, or imprisonment up to two years, or both, without defining such prohibited acts”.

According to Satiful Bahri Mamat, Terengganu state executive councillor in charge of Shariah implementation, education, and higher education, the criminalisation of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and childbirth for Muslim women (among other additions approved by the Terengganu state legislative assembly to the Shariah Criminal Offences (Takzir) (Terengganu) Enactment) was part of the state’s intent to criminalise Muslim “women acting like men”[4].

The law faced criticism from paediatricians who raised concerns about its potential impact on maternal and infant mortality. The Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) expressed their apprehension, warning the Terengganu state government that the law could lead some young pregnant Muslim women to seek abortions from unqualified medical practitioners. This lack of access to safe and legal abortions in Malaysia could result in severe long-term complications or even fatalities, as highlighted by MPA[5].

#3: Naming Your Child After A Fruit Is Illegal, Apparently / No Chance Naming Your Child Ciku 

Source: MBG

Thinking of naming your child Apple, Manggis or Durian? You might break Section 16 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957!

Following a series of bizarre names in 2006, the National Registration Department placed strict restrictions on the type of name you can choose. From 2006 onwards, the registrar can object to a name if it does not comply with the National Registration Department’s guidelines. Restrictions are placed on names that include colours, animals, fruits, vegetables, natural elements, numbers, food and even adjectives[6].

#4: Proceed With Caution: Jaywalking Is A Crime

Source: World of Buzz

Jaywalking is the act of crossing a road with oncoming traffic without overhead bridges or zebra crossings.

Like most countries, this act is prohibited here; under Section 75 of the Road Transport Act 1987 which states that jaywalking is illegal in Malaysia should it occur within 100m of a designated pedestrian crossing or bridge[7].

Within Kuala Lumpur, the minimum fine is RM30 if paid on the spot, or at any DBKL payment counter within 14 days. But the fine will increase to RM50 if the deadline is not met and continue to periodically increase to RM150 after a month. The maximum fine for the offence of jaywalking is capped at RM500[8].

Not that people are aware of or care about this law.

For example, a woman straight up ran into a motorcyclist as she jaywalked across the road in KL, as showcased in a video shared by the 我们是马来西亚人 We are Malaysians Facebook page[7].

#5: Don’t Throw Rings Into Rivers (Among Other Forms Of Mischief)

Throwing someone’s ring into a river may seem like a petty attempt at revenge. However, under Malaysian law, you can be penalised under the mischief section of the Penal Code[6].

According to this law:

Whoever, with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property, or in the situation thereof, as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits “mischief”[9]

For other forms of mischief you can be penalised for, here’s the law for melting an ice-house, deliberately setting a ship adrift in order to collect its insurance and letting your cattle graze upon someone else’s field![9]

If A introduces water into an ice-house belonging to Z, and thus causes the ice to melt, intending wrongful loss to Z. A has committed mischief.

Mischief is punishable by 1-5 years in jail and/or a fine.

#6: Don’t Get Drunk In Public

Think drinking alcohol can only get you into trouble when you drink and drive? Think again.

Under Section 21 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 – Drunkenness and disorderly behaviour in public places (In part)[10]:

Any person who is found drunk and incapable of taking care of himself, or is guilty of any riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour, … in any public road or in any public place or place of public amusement or resort, or in the immediate vicinity of any Court or of any public office or police station or place of worship, …

Yes, you read that right. You CAN get in trouble with the law for consuming alcohol in public! Especially near a courthouse, police station or place of worship.

For getting drunk in public, you can be imprisoned for a maximum of 14 days or a maximum fine of RM25 for the first offence. In addition, you can be imprisoned for a maximum of 3 months, a fine of RM100, or both for each subsequent offence[10].

#7: Don’t Ride Your Elephant Down The Street

Source: Says

While riding elephants down the street is common in Thailand, in Malaysia, riding an elephant or horse down public streets is illegal without the Chief Police Officer’s permission.

Under Section 11(b) of the Minor Offences Act 1955 – Miscellaneous Offences (in part)[10]:

11. Any person who —

(a) leads, drives or rides any horse, cattle, sheep, goat or pig on any public road in such a manner as not to have control over the same or in such a manner as to cause danger or obstruction to persons or traffic moving on the road;

(b) drives, rides or leads any elephant on any public road without the permission of the Chief Police Officer or of an officer authorized by him in writing by name or office;

This old law was enacted to ensure animals didn’t cause dangerous situations or obstruct traffic. So if you get caught riding your horse out on a public highway, expect to be fined RM50![10]

#8: Don’t Let The Dogs Out

Dog owners, be aware! Make sure your dog is properly leashed. Otherwise, you might pay a RM100 fine if your dog chases a stranger!

According to Act 336, “Dogs running at persons” is a law where dog owners will be held accountable; and if your pooch bites someone, expect an extra RM50 fine on top of the previous one[8].

#9: Bathing Yourself Or Your Pet In Public Is A No-No

Source: Says

With all the constant water cuts, you might be tempted to save water by taking a bath outside. In that case, you might want to avoid bathing near a public tank or reservoir, otherwise, you will be fined a maximum of RM100 under Act 336, Minor Offences Act 1955[8].

Keep in mind that this law applies to your furry friends too! So if your pooch rolled in the mud during a walk outside, it’s better if you wait until you get home[11].

#10: Don’t Accept Food Or Drinks Before, During, Or After Voting

Source: Says

Election Day can be a stressful time for everyone. Spending hours in line waiting to vote can leave you starving or dehydrated. But it’s wiser to bring your own snacks or drinks along.

Because if someone walks up to you in line offering free food or drink, accepting their offer will get you in huge trouble as doing so can be taken as you being influenced[11].

You might receive a fine of RM5,000 or get your right to vote suspended for up to five years – just for accepting that free sandwich[6].

*Name has been changed to maintain anonymity.

Explore our sources:

  1. E. Ng. (2023). Non-Muslim Malaysian woman fined for wearing shorts in Kelantan. The Straits Times. Link.
  2. S.M. Abdullah. (2023). Seven men slapped with warning notices for wearing thigh-length shorts [NSTTV]. New Straits Times. Link.
  3. S.M. Abdullah. (2023). Youths hauled up by the Kelantan religious authorities for wearing shorts, still in shock. New Straits Times. Link.
  4. Ova. (2022). Terengganu Criminalises Pregnancy, Childbirth For Single Muslim Women. Galen Centre. Link.
  5. Ova. (2022). Paediatricians Warn Terengganu Of Maternal, Infant Deaths With Pregnancy Criminalisation. Galen Centre. Link.
  6. Roshan. (2021). 8 Weird Laws in Malaysia. Awake & Dreaming. Link.
  7. Renushara. (2022). Woman Condemned For Jaywalking & Running Into Delivery Rider In KL. World of Buzz. Link.
  8. 15 Weird Things You Can Actually Be Fined for in Malaysia. CompareHero. Link.
  9. BurgieLaw. Link.
  10. Parikiah. (2017). 7 Malaysian laws you probably didn’t know existed (that can still get you in trouble). AskLegal. Link.
  11. 7 Everyday Things You Probably Didn’t Know Are Illegal In Malaysia. (2022). Astro Malaysia via Says. Link.

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