Published: Thursday October 4, 2012 MYT 11:17:00 PM
Updated: Thursday October 4, 2012 MYT 11:27:36 PM
Malaysian Bar welcomes additional RM20mil for Legal Aid Foundation
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar Thursday welcomed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's announcement of an additional RM20mil allocation for The National Legal Aid Foundation (NLAF) under the 2013 Budget.
Its president Lim Chee Wee said this apportionment was a clear indication of the Government's commitment to ensure the legal representation for arrested persons.
"And giving a real meaning to article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, which states that when a person is arrested he shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice" he said in a statement here Thursday.
He said it was estimated that some 39,000 Malaysians are arrested by the police every year, and between April and July this year, NLAF's lawyers assisted 13,046 persons in remand hearings and a total of 254 criminal files were opened.
The NLAF scheme nationwide extends to 68 of the 163 police district headquarters and 70 of the 99 remand courts, he added. Lim suggested that the current nominal sum paid to the lawyers who sign up for NLAF to be increased at least to match that of an equivalent jurisdiction, such as Taiwan.
"It is notable that the fees paid to lawyers in the United Kingdom and Australia under their legal aid schemes are many times higher than those paid here," he added.
He also acknowledged "the dedication and diligence of the Attorney-General, whose pivotal push in, and leadership of, YBGK led to its commencement and subsequent smooth operation."
Lim said the Bar looks forward to the government's continuing support to ensure the success and sustainability of this comprehensive legal aid programme for those ensnared in the criminal justice system. - Bernama