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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Legal Aid (Amendment) Bill passed in Dewan Rakyat

PARLIAMENT | Dewan Rakyat today passed the Legal Aid (Amendment) Bill which restricts non-Malaysians from seeking help from the Legal Aid Bureau.
This is despite several opposition lawmakers urging the government to revoke the controversial provision.
In his second reading debate, Hanipa Maidin (Amanah-Sepang) said the right to legal aid is universal, so it needs to be open to all.
"This is why I feel so ashamed. If we look at the US, they give such rights to all regardless of their nationality," he told the Dewan Rakyat.
"Previously, the permanent residents and those who live in the country are entitled to the aid," he said, adding, “the government should adopt universal values and not deny such rights to anyone.”
"This is regressive, we should move forward," he said.
Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh (BN-Setiu), however, claimed that since opposition lawmakers were so concerned about the foreigners, they could provide free legal service for them.
"If you are so concerned about them, why not set up a foundation (for that purpose)?" asked the Umno lawmaker.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said said 'no' to the opposition, citing the government needs to ensure that the public fund collected for such services is prioritised for Malaysians only.
"This is also practised in Singapore, where legal aid is given to citizens only," she said, when winding up the second reading of the bill.
"The foreigners can still have access to justice via their embassy and Legal Aid Foundation. The courts also usually assign lawyers in cases of capital crimes," she added.
The issue of the foreigner being discriminated does not arise as only a few foreigners seek help from the Legal Aid Bureau," she said.

"No one turned up (for help) in 2017 while only 30 cases were recorded in 2015," she added.
Despite Legal Aid Bureau offering help for various types of cases, Azalina said, all the case that sought legal aid were divorce cases.
The bill will allow underaged victims of sexual crimes and their family members to seek legal advice. - Mkini

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