Who is a minor? What is the definition of a child?

In Malaysia, a minor is defined as one who has not attained the age of majority. Under the civil law, the age of majority is 18.

Age of Majority Act 1971 [Act 21]

2. Age of majority
Subject to section 4, the minority of all males and females shall cease and determine within Malaysia at the age of eighteen years and every such male and female attaining that age shall be of the age of majority.

3. Interpretation
(1) All computations of age under this Act shall be reckoned according to the Gregorian calendar.

(2) In computing the age of any person the day on which he was born shall be included as a whole day, and he shall be deemed to have the age of eighteen years at the beginning of the eighteenth anniversary of that day.

The definition of a "child" or any provision fixing the "age of majority" under other written law may differ in accordance with the purposes of that law.

The Child Act 2001 [Act 611]

2. Interpretation
"child" -
(a) means a person under the age of eighteen years; and
(b) in relation to criminal proceedings, means a person who has attained the age of criminal responsibility as prescribed in section 82 of the Penal Code [Act 574]

In the criminal justice system, nothing is an offence which is done by a child:
  • under ten (10) years of age;
  • above ten (10) years of age and under twelve (12), who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequence of his conduct on that occasion.

For the purposes of employment of children and young persons, a "child" is defined under the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966 [Act 350] as any person who has not completed his fifteenth (15) year of age, whereas a "young person" is defined as a person who, not being a child, has not completed his eighteenth (18) year of age. No child or young person is permitted to be engaged in any employment in Malaysia.

For the purposes of adoption of children, a "child" is defined under the Adoption Act 7952 [Act 257] as an unmarried person under the age of twenty-one (21) and includes a female under that age who has been divorced.

A minor is restricted from signing a contract or legal instrument, otherwise the agreement is voidable, with the exception of scholarship agreement between the Government and the person being awarded the scholarship.

Contracts Act 1976 [Act 136]

10. What agreements are contracts
(1) All agreements are contracts if they are made by the free consent of parties competent to contract, for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object, and are not hereby expressly declared to be void.

11. Who are competent to contract
Every person is competent to contract who is of the age of majority according to the law to which he is subject, and who is of sound mind, and is not disqualified from contracting by any law to which he is subject.

The term 'underage' often refers to those under the age of majority, but may also refer to persons under a certain age limit, such as driving age, marriageable age, smoking age and voting age. These age limits may differ from the age of majority.

The voting age of Malaysians is set at 21 years although the age of majority is 18.

The minimum age to obtain a driving licence in Malaysia is:
  • Motorcycle and Disabled Vehicle [Class: A, B, B1 and B2]: 16 years of age
  • Car [Class: D, DA and A1]: 17 years of age
  • Lorry, Tractor, Bus and Taxi [Class: E, F, G, H, I and PSV]: 21 years of age

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Knowledge Base ID :   1061
Last Reviewed :   November 18, 2016
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