Malaysia has several interesting laws which may confuse the reader or may not be enforceable as a result of changing times and practices. Nevertheless, it is always fun when one comes across a law which provides a chuckle.
Today’s law that ought to be reviewed is Section 10 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 which states:
(1) No horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs shall be led or driven on any public road between the hours of sunset and sunrise unless such animals are in charge of at least one adult person carrying a light visible within a reasonable distance both in the direction in which such animals are being led or driven and in the reverse direction.
(2) If any such animals are led or driven on any public road in contravention of the provisions of this section the owner and any person in charge of such animals shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred ringgit.
On the surface, the law seems simple enough. The owner of a horse, cattle, sheep, goat or pig cannot lead the animal on a public road at nigh without carrying a light which allows the owner and animal to be seen by traffic. If the owner fails to do so, he/she may be liable to a fine of up to RM 100.00
However, there are two interesting points to note:
- It does not cover most other pets
Firstly, one will note that the list of animals is set down and is definitive. There is no room for others. Therefore, in theory, if one were to walk a dog at night without a flashlight, it would not be a crime against section 10 of the Minor Offences Act.
- It cannot be complied with
Secondly and more interestingly, the wording of the law makes the law impossible to comply with. The important phrase in Section 10(1) is “unless such animals are in charge of at least one adult person”.
Please note that the subsection states that you cannot walk the animal on a public road unless the animal is in charge of at least one adult. While we can gather the underly meaning of the law to be that the animal ought to be in the control of the adult, a strict reading of the law indicates that Parliament intends that the animal ought to be in charge of the adult, an event unlikely in the current timeline.
As such, although many other amendments to the Minor Offences Act have been made in the past, it is high time that Section 10 be altered to better reflect the intentions of Parliament.