Malaysia mulling over night curfew for under-18s

VIDEO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysians under 18 may not be able to hit the streets at night past a certain time, under a curfew being considered by the government.

The authorities are mulling the setting of a time limit for young Malaysians who can be out of the house without adult supervision, to shield them from negative activities, particularly when it comes to drugs.

The curfew was among matters raised and agreed upon at the Cabinet Committee on Eradicating Drugs meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on Thursday.

She noted that records show glue sniffing is a serious problem among the young.

Malaysia would not be the first country to introduce a curfew on teenagers and children. Iceland has something similar.

"We are looking at this policy practised by Iceland. This is a model that we can emulate," Datuk Seri Wan Azizah said. "It may not be easy to implement but we feel this is necessary and can definitely help prevent young people from being involved in negative activities."

Under Iceland's Child Protection Act, children under 12 may not be outdoors after 8pm unless accompanied by an adult.

Children aged 13 to 16 may not be outdoors after 10pm, unless they are on their way home from a recognised event organised by their school, sports organisation or youth club.

 

Those who break the curfew are taken to a police station and their parents will have to pick them up there.

But some have questioned Iceland's law, saying it contravenes United Nations' Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency and also violates the human rights of children.

Many Malaysians are not in favour of imposing such a curfew. In a quick online poll by The Star, 49 per cent of the nearly 1,400 respondents opposed the idea. Still, 34 per cent of respondents think the curfew is a good idea, saying it would be a great way to combat social ills. And 17 per cent think it is a good idea, but warned it would be impossible to implement.

American psychology professor Harvey Milkman at the Reykjavik University said using the curfew approach is just one part of the Icelandic model to solve the problem.

"After-school activities are probably the most significant thing, because youth have things to do that are healthy and worthwhile," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysia mulling over night curfew for under-18s'. Print Edition | Subscribe