Crime in Malaysia

Crime in Malaysia manifests in various forms, including murder, drive by killing,[1] drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, black marketeering, and many others.[2] Sex trafficking in Malaysia is a significant problem.[3][4][5]

Royal Malaysia Police - Airport Police

The crime rate in Malaysia showed a decline of 11.9% in 2018 compared to the previous year.[6] However, the public perception of crime did not improve.

According to the Royal Malaysia Police in 2014, the cities and towns with the highest number of criminal cases (in descending order) were Petaling Jaya, Johor Bahru, Bukit Mertajam, Ipoh and Kuantan.[7]

Human trafficking

Malaysia is a destination, supply and transit point for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.[8] Women and girls from Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are trafficked to Malaysia.[8] Malaysia is a transit country along with Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand in Chinese human trafficking.[9] Women from Malaysia are trafficked into the People's Republic of China.[9] Migrants from countries in the region work as domestic servants and laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors and face exploitative conditions.[8]

Between 2005 and September 2009, more than 36,858 women were arrested for prostitution in Malaysia.[10]

Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is a problem, heroin being the primarily used drug.[8] The maximum penalty for drug trafficking is up to death,[11] a measure which was introduced during the 1980s to combat drug offenses, and was highlighted following the 1986 execution of Kevin John Barlow and Brian Geoffrey Chambers.

Crime against tourists

Violent crime against foreign tourists is less frequent in Malaysia;[12] however, pickpocketing and burglaries are common criminal activities directed against foreigners.[12] Other types of non-violent crime include credit card fraud and motor vehicle theft;[12] there is a high rate of credit card fraud.[12][13] Scams are a problem in Kuala Lumpur which involve card games and purchase of gold jewellery.[11]


In the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, Malaysia had a corruption score of 48 out of 100; Malaysia was ranked 62nd worldwide, similar to Jordan and Cuba, and 3rd in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore (1st in SE Asia, 4th worldwide) and Brunei (2nd in SE Asia, 35th worldwide), and ahead of Vietnam (4th in SE Asia, 87th worldwide), Indonesia (4th in SE Asia, 96th worldwide), Thailand (5th in SE Asia, 110th worldwide) and lastly the Philippines (6th in SE Asia, 117th worldwide).[14][15]

Transparency International list Malaysia's key corruption challenges as:

  1. Political and Campaign Financing: Donations from both corporations and individuals to political parties and candidates are not limited in Malaysia. Political parties are also not legally required to report on what funds are spent during election campaigns. Due in part to this political landscape, Malaysia's ruling party for over 55 years has funds highly disproportionate to other parties. This unfairly impacts campaigns in federal and state elections and can disrupt the overall functioning of a democratic political system.
  2. “Revolving door”: Individuals regularly switch back and forth between working for both the private and public sectors in Malaysia. Such circumstances – known as the ‘revolving door’ – allow for active government participation in the economy and public-private relations to become elusive. The risk of corruption is high and regulating public-private interactions becomes difficult, also allowing for corruption to take place with impunity. Another factor which highlights the extent of ambiguity between the public sector and private corporate ownership is that Malaysia is also a rare example of a country where political parties are not restricted in possessing corporate enterprises.
  3. Access to information: As of April 2013, no federal Freedom of Information Act exists in Malaysia. Although, Selangor and Penang are the only Malaysian states out of thirteen to pass freedom of information legislation, the legislation still suffers from limitations. Should a federal freedom of information act be drafted it would conflict with the Official Secrets Act – in which any document can be officially classified as secret, making it exempt from public access and free from judicial review. Additional laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act 1949 (subsequently replaced with the National Harmony Act), and the Internal Security Act 1969 also ban the dissemination of official information and offenders can face fines or imprisonment.[16] Malaysia suffers from corporate fraud in the form of intellectual property theft.[17] Counterfeit production of several goods including IT products, automobile parts, etc., are prevalent.[17]

On 3 July 2018, former Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), investigating how allegedly RM42 million (US$10.6 million) went from SRC International into Najib's bank account. Police seized 1,400 necklaces, 567 handbags, 423 watches, 2,200 rings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras worth $273 million.[18] On 28 July 2020, the High Court convicted Najib on all seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust, becoming the first Prime Minister of Malaysia to be convicted of corruption,[19][20] and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment and fined RM210 million.[21][22]

See also


  1. "Man detained over Bukit Mertajam drive-by shooting | New Straits Times". 27 May 2018.
  2. "Working Together to Protect U.S. Organizations Overseas".
  3. "Malaysia must wake up to its human trafficking problem". New Mandala. May 24, 2017.
  4. "US penalises Malaysia for shameful human trafficking record". The Guardian. June 20, 2014.
  5. "Malaysia considers amending human trafficking law after U.S. report". Reuters. June 29, 2018.
  6. ZOLKEPLI, FARIK (2019-01-16). "IGP: 2018 crime rate dropped 11.9%, perception of crime unchanged". The Star Online. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  7. "6,500 Anggota Polis Baharu Setiap Tahun Untuk Atasi Jenayah - Berita Jenayah | mStar". Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  8. "CIA World Factbook - Malaysia". CIA World Factbook. 13 January 2022.
  9. Kimberley L. Thachuk (2007). Transnational Threats. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-275-99404-4.
  10. "36,858 women believed to be prostitutes detained since 2005 - Police".
  11. Simon Richmond (2007). Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei. Lonely Planet. pp. 488. ISBN 978-1-74059-708-1.
  12. "Consular Information Sheet: Malaysia". Archived from the original on 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2017-06-24. Bureau of Consular Affairs
  13. Aneace Haddad (2005). A New Way to Pay: Creating Competitive Advantage through the EMV Smart Card Standard. Gower Publishing Ltd. p. 5. ISBN 0-566-08688-3.
  14. "Malaysia". Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  15. Tang, Ashley. "Malaysia drops five spots in corruption perceptions index ranking". The Star. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  16. Darryl S. L. Jarvis (2003). International Business Risk: A Handbook for the Asia-Pacific Region. Cambridge University Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-521-82194-0.
  17. Darryl S. L. Jarvis (2003). International Business Risk: A Handbook for the Asia-Pacific Region. Cambridge University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-521-82194-0.
  18. 1MDB scandal explained: a tale of Malaysia's missing billions Published by The Guardian on October 25, 2018
  19. "Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak found guilty of all 7 charges in 1MDB trial". Channel News Asia. 28 July 2020. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  20. "Najib Razak: Former Malaysian PM guilty on all charges in corruption trial". BBC News. 28 July 2020. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  21. "Ex-Malaysian PM Najib gets 12 years' jail in 1MDB-linked graft trial". The Straits Times. 28 July 2020. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  22. "Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak sentenced to 12 years in jail following guilty verdict in 1MDB trial". Channel NewsAsia. 28 July 2020. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
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