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5 Pocket-Sized Things You Didn’t Know Could Get You In Trouble With Malaysian Law

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This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.

(Opening Image Credit: MeMD Blog)


It’s no secret that trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. From insect bites to billion dollar-scams to fits of rage involving steering wheel locks, trouble can manifest in a limitless number of ways.

Threatening a security officer with a steering wheel lock certainly is a recipe for trouble: Image Credit: World of Buzz


In this article though, we zone in specifically on pocket-sized objects that could get you in substantial trouble with a variety of Malaysian laws. You may be surprised to find that some of these items are especially common and curiously easy to find in our country – which means that you may also be surprised to learn that they are illegal in certain circumstances.

As such, pay twice as much attention to this list, because “Double, double, toil and trouble” may be closer – and smaller – than you think!


1. Alcohol

Gifting someone with bottles of alcohol and spirits is a common practice, particularly on celebratory occasions or as a means of conveying warm wishes.

As adorable and harmless as these bottles may be, they can get you in hot soup in certain circumstances. Image Credit: Groupon UK


However, did you know that even the smallest, most fun-sized bottle of alcohol – including miniatures, samples and pocket-sized flasks – can get you in trouble if they are found on you in a police station, military barrack or government-hired vessel?

Even attempting to carry any amount of alcohol into these establishments without permission from their respective authorities is illegal, as explained in the Minor Offences Act 1955.

Section 17 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 – Taking spirits, etc., into barracks and police stations (In part):

Any person who, … takes or attempts to take into any military barrack, guardroom or encampment, or on board … transport hired by the Government of Malaysia or of the country to which any visiting force belongs, or any vessel in the service of the Government of Malaysia … or into any police barrack, police station or lock-up … any intoxicating liquor, drug or preparation without the permission … shall be liable to a fine …


PENALTY: Imprisonment for a maximum of 3 months, a maximum fine of RM50.00, or both. The alcohol in question will also be forfeited to authorities. 


2. Knives

Knives play a large role in today’s society, especially when it comes to household chores like cooking or artistic endeavours like carving and sculpting.

Carrying some knives without lawful reason to do so, however, is illegal. Section 7 of the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act 1958 tells us that certain types of knives fall into the category of “scheduled weapons”, even if they are pocket-friendly, and that the possession of these scheduled weapons is illegal.

A prime example of a flick knife that you want to avoid having in your pocket. Image Credit: Gizmodo Australia


The Second Schedule of the same act goes on to specify the types of knives that stand under this umbrella:

Second Schedule of the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act 1958 (In part):

1. Any knife, sometimes known as a “flick knife”, …

2. Any knife, sometimes known as a “gravity knife”, …

6. Any knife-like instrument with three sharp edges and a sharp pointed tip, sometimes known as a “bearing-scraper”.


But that’s not all. The act then goes on to explain that any blade which has any sort of religious inscription on it, or carries a word, verse or character from any religion or belief on it, is also an illegal scheduled weapon.

8. Any sword, kris, parang or other knife which … bears any verse, word or character connected with or relating to any religion or belief.


PENALTY: Imprisonment for between 5 to 10 years, without bail. The knife in question will also be seized. 


3. Currency

Generally speaking, having money in your pocket is definitely not a bad thing. The more the, better, in fact.

However, if you have even an inkling that the currency that you are carrying in your pocket – be it in the form of bank notes or coins – is counterfeit, forged or fake, you could be in serious trouble. 
Oh yes, it would be wonderful to have enough money in your pockets to be “ballin’” like this. Image Credit: GIPHY


The Penal Code tells us through Section 489C that if you posses currency which you have reason to believe is fake, and you are aware that this currency could still possibly be used in transactions and exchanges, you could be charged with an offence against the law.

In other words, carrying currency that you merely suspect to be counterfeit could get you in a much trouble as carrying actual counterfeit currency could. Your best bet, upon having such a suspicion, would be to head to a nearby bank and verify your suspicions, or surrender it to a police station.

PENALTY: Imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.


4. Ballot Papers

It is perfectly easy to find banners, advertisements, posters, and pamphlets that carry depictions of ballot papers on them, come election season in Malaysia.

Hints of GE14 seem to be in the air, and it smells like another election season is around the corner. Image Credit: HYPE


Did you know that printing these, however, is illegal? As Section 3(1m) of the Election Offences Act 1954 elaborates, the production of handbills or posters which carry reproductions of ballot papers that are likely to be used in an election is illegal, especially if these printed materials make references to that specific election.

The only instance in which the printing or possession of these handbills and posters is allowed is during the campaigning period of an election, but only if the printed document in question refers specifically to just 1 candidate and depicts a cross or ‘X’ symbolising the approval of this candidate.

But that’s not all. 
Yes, ballot papers may be a shockingly sensitive subject to some. Image Credit: GIPHY


If you so happen to carry a ballot paper out of a polling station, or are found in possession of a ballot paper outside the confines of a polling station, you could also be charged with an offence against the law under Section 3(1h) of the Election Offences Act 1954.

Section 3(1h) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Offences by any person (In part):

Any person who—

… takes out of the polling station any ballot paper or is found in possession of any ballot paper outside a polling station;


PENALTY: Imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years, a maximum fine of RM5000.00, or both. You will also be unable to vote or be elected for a period of 5 years from the date of your conviction.


5. Printed Qur’anic Texts

Carrying religious symbols or printed verses from any religious document is indubitably a common practice. It is only natural to want to closely carry a depiction of your faith with you wherever you go, be it for protection, reassurance or various reasons.

In the context of Qur’anic texts, though, it is absolutely illegal for a person to possess such documents with the intent of distributing or sharing them – even if they are small, personalized and pocket-friendly – if they have not been licensed and approved by authorities, as illustrated by Section 13(1) of the Printing of Qur’anic Texts 1986. 
Yes, that printed and laminated Qur’anic verse card in your pocket may not be legal. Image Credit: GIPHY


For a printed Qur’anic text to be licensed for possession and distribution, it must carry the following details on its first or leaf:

Section 8(1) of the Printing of Qur’anic Texts 1986 – Qur’anic texts to bear certain information (In part):

Every Qur’anic text which is printed or published in Malaysia or imported into Malaysia shall bear conspicuously on the first or last printed leaf thereof, …

(a) the name and address of its printer and publisher, …

(b) in the case of an imported Qur’anic text, the name and address of its importer;

(c) the address of the place where it was printed, …

(d) a statement to the effect that the Qur’anic Verses contained in the text have been certified to be correct by the Lembaga …

(e) the reference number of the relevant certificate.


The “Lembaga” stated above refers to the Lembaga Pengawalan dan Pelesenan Pencetakan Al- Qur’an, which is the body that oversees the licensing of printed Qur’anic texts. All such texts and prints or publications must be submitted to this body for approval prior to publishing, possession or distribution.

PENALTY: Imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years, a maximum fine of RM5000.00, or both.


What’s in your pockets?

To be on the safe side of things, why not check your pockets closely each time you leave home? Be particularly sure that you aren’t carrying items that could be illegal at your destination, and take note of items that are prohibited without the licenses required to carry them.

While we’re on this subject, also keep an eye out for suspicious individuals who may be carrying illegal and possibly dangerous items in their pockets. Do not underestimate any object based on its size, and report any suspicions to the police or security forces.

After all, in some hands, a toothpick can be just as dangerous as a knife.