Budget 2024: Allocations for legislative reforms ensure people's right to justice - Lawyers

16 Oct 2023 12:58pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - The allocations set aside under Budget 2024 to implement the institutional and legal reform agenda prove that the Unity Government is committed to defending the people's rights to justice and empowering the civil and syariah judiciary, said legal practitioners.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, when tabling Malaysia Madani Budget 2024, last Friday announced an allocation of RM18 million to launch legal reforms, including preparation for the Alternative Punishment for the Mandatory Death Penalty Bill.

Anwar, who was also the Finance Minister, said the government would allocate RM38 million to increase the productivity of the country’s judiciary, with the allocation covering priority for repairing infrastructure and outdated and damaged court information and communication technology (ICT) facilities.

It includes RM20 million to empower the Judicial Academy Malaysia and the Malaysia Syariah Judiciary Academy to train higher court judges more systematically and effectively.

Lawyer Rahmat Hadzlan regarded the allocation for judicial reforms as the government's constructive step to improve the country's legal and judicial systems.

"Particularly with regard to the objective of punishment in providing the offenders with the opportunity for rehabilitation without neglecting the aspects of deterrence and justice," he told Bernama.

Lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan said the provision was indicative of the progressive Unity Government and its emphasis on humanitarian values.

"It also proves the government's efforts to bring the country's legal system forward and increase the quality of appointed judges," he said.

Related Articles:

Federal Territories Syariah Lawyers Council ((BPSWP) president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, meanwhile, hoped that the allocation given to the Malaysia Syariah Judiciary Academy would effectively support the training of justices, enabling them to deliver high-quality judicial decisions.

"I hope that the funds will also be channelled to BPSWP, which was established by the government last year, to train syarie lawyers," he said.

In response to the government's move to strengthen the Legal Aid Department's function under the budget, Zainul Rijal said this would allow more people to access the department's services.

In addition, he suggested that the department raise the fee rate for panel lawyers and appoint more panel lawyers.

The prime minister, when tabling the budget, also said that beginning next year, the Legal Aid Department's function in defending the poor's right to justice would be strengthened as the number of civil and syariah cases receiving legal aid has increased to 8,500 cases due to the increase in the eligibility limit for full legal aid to RM50,000.

Echoing the same sentiment, Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association (PGSM) president Musa Awang said the provision demonstrated the government's commitment to empowering the country's syariah judiciary.

He was of the view that funds for the syariah legal aid should be extended to related non-governmental organisations such as PGSM, which provides professional legal aid through the Syariah Legal Aid Centre (Bagus) to the B40 group nationwide.

"Since its inception in July 2022, Bagus has received more than 1,000 applications and over 400 cases have been assisted by more than 390 Bagus syarie panel lawyers nationwide.

"PGSM will not be able to continue this Bagus aid programme if no funds are channelled by the government, corporate bodies, and so on," he said. - BERNAMA