Mental Capacity Bill should reach Parliament this year, says Kulasegaran

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) M. Kulasegaran today said the government intends to table a Mental Capacity Bill in Parliament before the year ends.

He said the proposed law would allow individuals to arrange for the management of their affairs — such as on advance medical directives, legal authorisation, and estate management — with a lasting power of attorney, in the event they become mentally incapacitated.

“Yes, we are targeting this year, before the yearend, hopefully.

“This legislation will complement the Mental Health Act 2001 which can only be used when the person is already mentally incapacitated.

“The mental capacity law will look at matters before the person becomes mentally incapacitated,” Kulasegaran told a press conference after launching the Mental Capacity Act forum at the Asian International Arbitration Centre here.

He said one of the aspects to be included in the proposed legislation is the lasting power of attorney – a legal document that appoints someone else to act on behalf of someone deemed to have lost the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Malaysia does not currently recognise the lasting power of attorneys.

Kulasegaran said the legal document will give power for a continuing process as currently, the Power of Attorney Act 1949 ceases to take effect if the person dies, or has become of unsound mind, or if there is anything to cause the power of attorney to lapse.

By including the lasting power of attorney in the proposed law, Kulasegaran said people can better plan for themselves and their families on what to do next.

He added that one of the reasons to create this law is because Malaysia is becoming an ageing society.

“A lot of Malaysians are very concerned when there is an autistic child, in the present situation you can do a benevolent trust. But you need that to be continued, so with this law coming into operation, you have a public guardian; they will oversee the continuing process and they are specialists, you can entrust them to take care of the child. You don’t have to worry because now you are doing it on your own.

“With the law in effect, you don’t need to depend on a third party or the government,” he said.

In his speech earlier, Kulasegaran said the proposed law can be handy not just for those who are judged to have a mental illness, as gave as example, someone suffering from dementia, like Alzheimer's disease.

“It also includes situations where a person may be undergoing surgery or is suffering from temporary mental incapacity, in that sense.

“This new legislation will therefore be a transformational new legal instrument in Malaysia to assist in the care and management of those who become mentally incapacitated,” he said.