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  • Writer's pictureSreedhara Naidu

Child Abandonment in Malaysia: Understanding the Legal Perspective

In Malaysia, child abandonment is a critical issue addressed under the Child Act 2001 (Act 611) and the Penal Code (Act 574). These laws focus on the care, protection, and criminal consequences of child abandonment.


Under the Child Act 2001, a child may be considered "in need of care and protection" in situations that involve abandonment or neglect. When a parent or guardian persistently fails to provide for the child's basic needs or care, they may be placed under temporary measures, such as an interim protection order, to ensure their welfare. These orders can include appointing a temporary guardian or caretaker and placing the child under supervision during the interim period.


The Penal Code, on the other hand, specifically criminalises child abandonment. Section 317 states that a parent or caregiver who intentionally leaves a child under 12 years old to wholly abandon them can be imprisoned for up to seven years, a fine, or both.


The court considers factors such as the duration and reasons for the parent's absence, the child's best interests, and the parent's ability to provide care and support.


Whether a parent has abandoned their child depends on the specific circumstances and evidence presented. Factors such as the duration and reasons for the parent's absence, the child's best interests, and the parent's ability to provide care and support are considered by the court.


In summary, child abandonment in Malaysia is a matter of care and protection and a criminal act with serious consequences. Parents and caregivers must be aware of their responsibilities and the legal ramifications of their actions. If you or someone you know needs advice on a particular situation, consult a Malaysian lawyer specialising in family or criminal law.

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