Asian Bioethics Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 87–92 | Cite as

Considerations for Introducing Legislation on Advance Decisions in Malaysia

  • Mark Tan Kiak MinEmail author


Despite significant advances in medicine, death remains a certainty for every living human being. End-of-life care decision-making is not made easier in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Malaysia. As such, planning for one's death by making Advance Decisions can be immensely valuable as it can help healthcare providers in Malaysia to understand better the preferences and wishes of their patients. However, compared to other countries, there is currently no specific legislation on any form of Advance Decisions in Malaysia despite many doctors voicing a need for them. Unlike the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in the UK, the Malaysian Mental Health Act 2001 does not cover all instances of incapacity and only applies to those who suffer from a mental disorder as defined in the Act. In the absence of legislation, one could look to ethical guidelines, especially from the Malaysian Medical Council, but find that this can sometimes be problematic. It is argued that a concerted effort involving all relevant parties is required to develop a pragmatic and viable Advance Decisions frameworkl in Malaysia.


Advance decisions End-of-life care Medical law Malaysia 


  1. Dahlan, R., and F.S. Faudzi. 2015. The Syariah Court: Its position under the Malaysian legal system. Legal Herald 5: 1–10.Google Scholar
  2. Department of Statistics (Malaysia). 2010. Population and Housing Census of Malaysia 2010: Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics. Available at: <> (Accessed: 21 June 2016).
  3. Gawande, A. 2014. Being mortal: Illness, medicine, and what matters in the end. London: Profile Books Ltd..Google Scholar
  4. Guardianship of Infants Act (Malaysia) 1961. Available at: <> (Accessed: 28 June 2016).
  5. Jahn Kassim, P.N., and F. Alias. 2015. Advance directives for medical treatment: The current legal status. Malayan Law Journal 3: 1–20.Google Scholar
  6. Jahn Kassim, P.N., and F. Alias. 2016. Religious, ethical and legal considerations in end-of-life issues: Fundamental requisites for medical decision making. Journal of Religion and Health 55 (1): 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kaur, S. 2011. The adequacy of the ethics review process in Malaysia: Protection of the interests of mentally incapacitated adults who enrol in clinical trials. Unpublished PhD thesis. University College London.Google Scholar
  8. Keown, J. 2015. Legal issues at the end of life. In: I.C. de Paula and R. Pegoraro, eds. 2015. Assisting the elderly and palliative care. Rome: Pontifical Academy of Life. pp.203–214.Google Scholar
  9. Leong, R.L.B. 2003. Palliative care in Malaysia: A decade of progress and going strong. Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 17 (3): 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Malaysian Medical Association. 2001. Code of Medical Ethics. Available at: <> (Accessed: 3 June 2016).
  11. Malaysian Medical Council. 2017. Consent for Treatment of Patients by Registered Medical Practitioners. Available at: <> (Accessed: 20 October 2017).
  12. Medical (Amendment) Act 2012. Available at: <> (Accessed:10 July 2017).
  13. Medical Regulations 2017. Available at: <> (Accessed: 10 July 2017).
  14. Mental Capacity Act 2005. (c.4). Available at: <> (Accessed: 29 June 2016).
  15. Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice 2007. Available at: <> (Accessed: 29 June 2016).
  16. Mental Health Act 2001. Available at: <> (Accessed: 5 July 2016).
  17. Nuland, S.B. 1995. How we die: Reflections on life’s final chapter. USA: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  18. Wilmott, L., B. White, C. Gallois, M. Parker, N. Graves, S. Winch, L.K. Callaway, N. Shepherd, and E. Close. 2016. Reasons doctors provide futile treatment at the end of life: A qualitative study. Journal of Medical Ethics 42: 496–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wyatt, J. 2015. Right to die? Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National University of Singapore and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Sungai Buloh CampusJalan HospitalSungai BulohMalaysia

Personalised recommendations