Whatever your political allegiances, most – if not all – Malaysians are well aware that 2018 is a year that will forever be remembered in the annals of our nation’s history, that being the switch of government for the first time in 60+ years. For many (especially on social media), this came with a rejuvenated sense of hope for transparency and better governance – all encapsulated in the catchy tagline of “Malaysia Baru”.
What we might forget, however, is the fact that the task of shaping this ‘Malaysia Baru’ doesn’t rest only in the hands of the government. The truth is, we all have a role to play in shaping our country on a daily basis, and this means that we have to reflect largely on our own actions everyday before telling others what to do.
For starters, if there is one simple thing that we can all do to help build ‘Malaysia Baru’, it would be ensuring that we do a better job of following our local laws. That includes the smaller, seemingly mundane laws which many of us overlook or forget amidst our busy lifestyles – or worse still, are not even aware of to begin with, leading to the sarcastic tagline ‘Malaysia Baru, mentaliti lama’.
What follows below is a list of five laws that you may have forgotten/overlooked/ignored about over the years, but are still very much in effect regardless of which political party is in charge.
1) Inconsiderate driving
You may be in a rush to get to that lunch meeting in KL, and you may feel that swerving in and out of traffic or making sudden turns without turning on your signal light is entirely acceptable.
The law reminds us, however, that this certainly isn’t the case. In fact, Section 43 of the Road Transport Act 1987 specifically lists careless and inconsiderate driving as an offence against the law.
“Careless and inconsiderate” can be a pretty wide term, but some examples of people charged under this section of the law includes taking corners at speed, bad overtaking resulting in an accident, and ramming through other cars. The penalties? A fine between RM4,000 and RM10,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both. Not just that, repeat offenders are at risk of having their driving license suspended while “P” license drivers may get their license revoked on the first offence.
Of course, inconsiderate driving is just one aspect of the law. Other sections that deserve some mention include dangerous driving and drunk driving, to common annoyances like double parking, standing to “chup” parking spots, or the ever-popular cutting queue at junctions.
Unfortunately, bribery is something that doesn’t really need an introduction as it’s something that’s present in almost all levels of society, from high profile political cases to giving “duit kopi” when pulled over by the cops – which explains why our country still fares poorly in the eyes of the Corruption Perception Index as of 2017.
While it’s illegal for the authorities themselves to ask for or accept a bribe, evidenced by the recent action that was taken against a traffic police officer, you’d be keen to know that that bribery isn’t a crime for only the accepting party. The one who gives the bribe is equally punishable in the eyes of the law, as seen below:
Section 21 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 – Bribery of officer of public body (In part):
Section 21 is pretty long as it lists down the “conditions” that would constitute a bribe, but the gist is that if the exchange gives you an advantage over someone else or causes an officer to do something that’s contrary to their duty, it probably counts as a bribe. The punishment? Imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years, along with a fine of at least five times the amount of the bribe or a minimum of RM10,000, whichever is higher.
So, as tempting as it may seem to bribe your way out of trouble with traffic police through some duit kopi, remember that you’ll just be contributing RM50 to the overall state of corruption. Otherwise, think about the magnitude of the punishment that you are risking instead.
Been hacking and coughing away since morning, and finally ready to relieve yourself of that blob of phlegm that just dislodged itself from your throat? Afterall, it’s not healthy to swallow it, and no one’s going to mind a green gob on the pavement or in the grass, right?
Indeed, spitting may seem like a natural thing to do; afterall it’s not like you can ask your body to stop producing phlegm or saliva. But while it can be pretty unattractive seeing it done in public places (not to mention stepping on it), it can be worse when you’re working in contact with food – like this durian seller who was caught spitting on the fruits he was selling.
While it sounds like a pretty outdated law, the Minor Offences Act 1955 actually makes spitting a punishable offence.
Section 15 (1) (d) of the Minor Offences Act 1955 – Miscellaneous Nuisances – Spitting (in part) :
But of course the law isn’t totally inconsiderate to your bodily functions as it provides an exception if the spitting is done in a container specifically provided for that purpose (like a spittoon) or into any drain. Other than that, you might be looking at a really hefty fine of RM100. Yeah, you might laugh because you’ve had casual dinners that cost more than that, but try imagining someone’s thick gob of phlegm stuck to your shoe as you’re walking to the cafe.
Also, it’s apparently fine to swallow your own phlegm.
Malaysians certainly have a wonderful sense of humour when it comes to littering. Wherever there is a sign saying ‘No Littering Here!’, one can almost always find piles of trashed heaped below, as if in mockery of instructions or simply in rebellion.
Need we say more? (Image Credit: TallyPress)
If you do get caught doing so however, or littering in any public place for that matter, the joke may be on you.
Section 47 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 elaborates that littering in any public place is an offence against the law, regardless of whether the litter consists of simple pieces of paper or large packets of food. It also includes irresponsibly leaving behind pieces of rubbish in a public place after you having finished using them, such as canned drinks or bottles of water.
Getting caught for littering may land you with an arrest, along with a maximum fine of RM500 for your first offence and RM1000 for each subsequent offence.
If that doesn’t deter you, remember that littering can also be deadly and harmful to others, especially when it is done from places that are high above the ground – as seen during the recent death of a young boy who was struck by an office chair that was thrown out of a flat unit. Check out our full article on littering laws here:
[READ MORE: Asklegal’s rubbish article]
5) Illegally sticking posters
If there’s one thing all Malaysians are familiar with, especially those of us who live in cities, it would be the omnipresent posters and stickers on signboards, pillars, walls, and even under flyovers advertising anything from quick loans to cheese massages. For those of you who prefer the Queen’s English, these are also referred to as ‘Bills’, as in the “Post no bills” signs you sometimes see on walls.
Unless you’re involved in these businesses or have a full time job pasting them up, there’s a really low chance that you’d get in trouble for this. However, we’ve chosen to include this point because it’s a bigger eyesore then public smoking (arguably) – though you can read about the 2017 regulations on smoking in public here.
Back to topic, affixing stickers, posters, or any other attachments to the surfaces of property without permission to do is illegal. This holds in the case of both public and private property, as Section 15(2) of the Minor Offences Act 1955 tells us. Property, in this case, refers to:
Section 15(2) of the Minor Offences Act 1955 – Affixing bills or otherwise defacing property, etc. (In part):
… “property” includes any building, wall, road, fence, tree, lamp standard, lamp or telephone post, traffic sign and notice board.
Under this law, a conviction brings a maximum fine of RM1000, imprisonment for a maximum of one year, if not both. There are several other laws that apply to the companies that put up these posters, which we’ve covered in a separate article.
“But the gomen also don’t enforce...”
Whenever we publish an article like this, there’ll always be comments about how the laws are useless because they aren’t enforced by the authorities in question. However, enforcement can sometimes be seen as a two-way street. While we should expect our authorities to properly do their jobs, it’s also partially our responsibility to report errant officers and to not be enablers by offering them bribes.
But perhaps something can also be said about needing punishment as a motivator to do (or not do) something which should generally be done out of consideration or plain ol’ civic consciousness whether #its2018 #malaysiabaru or any catchphrase that gets popular on social media :)