The Malaysian Criminal Justice System: History Context and Development

  • Muzammil QuraishiEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Advances in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Asia book series (PACCJA)


This section provides an overview of the early pre-colonial political history of the nation leading to independence and the creation of the Federation of Malaysia. A core aspect of this section engages with the development of the Islamic legal system in the region and the challenges presented by legal pluralism, Islamisation and departures from classical Islamic jurisprudence. The ethno-national nature of the country coupled with a tendency towards authoritarianism, or Hobbism, is explored before providing an overview of the key features of the Malaysian criminal justice institutions such as the Royal Malaysian Police and prisons.


  1. Abbot, J. P., & Gregorios-Pippas, S. (2010). Islamization in Malaysia: Processes and Dynamics. Contemporary Politics, 16(2), 135–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Attas, S. M. N. (1963). Some Aspects of Sufism as Understood and Practiced Among the Malays. Singapore: Malaysian Sociological Research Institute.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Attas, S. M. N. (1967). Preliminary Statement on a General Theory of the Islamization of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka.Google Scholar
  4. Amnesty International. (2018). Malaysia Report 2017/2018. Retrieved October 25, 2019, from www.
  5. Auda, J. (2008). Maqāṣid Al- Sharī’ah: A Beginner’s Guide. London and Washington: The International Institute of Islamic Thought.Google Scholar
  6. Aziz, A., & Shamsul, A. B. (2004). The Religious, the Plural, the Secular and the Modern: A Brief Critical Survey on Islam in Malaysia. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 5(3), 341–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bakri, H. H. M., Said, J., & Karim, Z. A. (2015). Case Study in Integrity Among Royal Malaysian Police (RMP): An Ethical Perspective. Procedia Economics & Finance, 28, 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Balasubramaniam, R. R. (2012). Hobbism and the Problem of Authoritarian Rule in Malaysia. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 4, 211–234. Scholar
  9. Barr, M. D., & Govindasamy, A. R. (2010). The Islamisation of Malaysia: Religious Nationalism in the Service of Ethnonationalism. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 64(3), 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Child Rights Coalition Malaysia. (2012). Status Report on Children’s Rights in Malaysia. Malaysian Child Resource Institute. Retrieved November 18, 2019, from
  11. Dannecker, P. (2005). Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Malaysia: The Construction of the ‘Others’ in a Multi-Ethnic Context. Asian Journal of Social Science, 33(2), 246–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Department of Statistics, Malaysia. (2018, July 31). Current Population Estimates, Malaysia, 2017. 2018. Department of Statistics Malaysia. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from
  13. Farrar, S. A. (2013). Crime and Criminal Justice in Malaysia. Chapter 16 in J. Liu, B. Hebonton, & S. Jou (Eds.), Handbook of Asian Criminology. New York: Springer. Scholar
  14. Ghazali, M. A., Sawari, S. S. M., & Abdullah, N. A. (2018). Delinquency, Career and Prospects: A Conceptual Paper. Scholars International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 1(2), 46–48.Google Scholar
  15. Hamid, A. F. A. (2016). Syriahization of Intra-Muslim Religious Freedom and Human Rights Practice in Malaysia: The Case of Darul Arqam. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 38(1), 28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hamzah, W. A. (2009). A First Look at the Malaysian Legal System. Selangor: Oxford Fajar Sdn. Bhd.Google Scholar
  17. Haneef, S. S. S. (2010). Discourse on Hudud in Malaysia: Addressing the Missing Dimension. Journal of Islamic Law & Culture, 12(2), 131–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hood, R. (2013). The Death Penalty in Malaysia: Public Opinion on the Mandatory Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking, Murder and Firearms Offences. The Death Penalty Project, London. Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford & The Bar Council of Malaysia.Google Scholar
  19. Human Rights Watch. (2017). World Report: Malaysia 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2019, from
  20. ICPR. (2019). World Prison Brief: Malaysia. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from
  21. Ismail, S. Z. (2015). At the Foot of the Sultan: The Dynamic Application of Sharī’ah in Malaysia. Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, 3, 69–81.Google Scholar
  22. Karim, Z. A., Said, J., & Bakri, H. H. M. (2015). An Exploratory Study on the Possibility of Asset Misappropriation Among Royal Malaysian Police Officials. Procedia Economics and Finance, 31, 625–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Keng, C. B. (2009). The Communist Insurgency in Malaysia, 1948–90: Contesting the Nation State and Social Change. New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 11(1), 132–152.Google Scholar
  24. Kuga Thas, A. M. (2013). Othering the Malay in Malaysia: A Planned Consequence of Politics? The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2013: The Official Conference Proceedings 2013, The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), Osaka, Japan, pp. 55–74.Google Scholar
  25. Lau, P. H., & Ali, K. (2019). Citizen Participation in Crime Prevention: A Study in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 5(2), 144–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ministry of Justice. (2019). Prison Population Figures: 2019. Ministry of Justice, Home Office, London. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from
  27. Moustafa, T. (2014). Judging in God’s Name@ State Power, Secularism and The Politics of Islamic Law in Malaysia. Oxford Journal of Religion and Law, 3(1), 152–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Munro-Kua, A. (1996). Authoritarian Populism in Malaysia. Basingstoke and London: Macmillan Press Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neo, J. L.-C. (2006). Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-Ethnic Composition of Malaysia. International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, 13, 95–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Othman, A. (2013). The Community Service Order (CSO) in Malaysia: An Exploration of the Perceptions and Experiences of the Youthful Offenders and Supervisors. PhD Thesis, University of Salford. Retrieved from
  31. Pepinsky, T. B. (2007). Malaysia: Turnover Without Change. Journal of Democracy, 18(1), 113–127. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  32. Perlembagaan Malaysia [Constitution]. (1957, August 27). Sched. 9, List I (Federal List) Item 6(e).Google Scholar
  33. Rajaram, P. K., & Grundy-Warr, C. (2004). The Irregular Migrant as Homo Sacer: Migration and Detention in Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand. International Migration, 42(1), 33–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shuaib, F. S. (2009). Towards Malaysian Common Law: Convergence Between Indigenous Norms and Common Law Methods. 13 Jurnal Undang-Undang. The Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law, 158.Google Scholar
  35. Shuaib, F. S. (2012). The Islamic Legal System in Malaysia. Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, 21(1), 85–113.Google Scholar
  36. Sulaiman, A. H., Othman, J., Hamsan, H. H., Samah, B. A., & D’Silva, J. L. (2012). Community Development and Its Influence on Community Policing. American Journal of Applied Science, 9(7), 968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tan, C.-B. (2000). Ethnic Identities and National Identities: Some Examples from Malaysia. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 6(4), 441–480. Scholar
  38. Villarante, S. J. (2005). A Comparative Study of Juvenile Justice Systems in Japan and Malaysia: A Review of Policies, Approaches and Strategies. Economic Prospects, Cultural Encounters and Political Decisions: Scenes in a Moving Asia (East and Southeast). The Work of the 2002/2003 API Fellows, Part II, pp. 90–104. Asian Public Intellectuals Programme, The Nippon Foundation, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from
  39. Zubir, N. A., & Dahalan, W. S. A. W. (2012). Maritime Violence: Implications to Malaysia. Arena Hukum, 6(1), Halaman, 1–74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and SocietyUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK

Personalised recommendations