Govt to allocate RM1m in legal service for poor communities

The provision is in line with the government’s aspiration to always help Malaysians who may require legal assistance, PM says

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by BERNAMA

THE government will allocate RM1 million to establish the Tan Sri Ahmad Ibrahim Foundation to provide legal services for those who cannot afford them.

Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) said the name of the foundation stems from a notable member of the Universiti Malaya (UM) Law Faculty Alumni Association (PARFUM), whom he is also a member of.

“I fully support the proposal as it is clearly in line with my mission and the government’s aspiration to always help Malaysians who may require legal assistance,” he said in his speech during UM’s Faculty of Law’s Golden Jubilee ceremony recently.

Ismail Sabri also announced two other initiatives, namely the “Malaysia Family Welfare Fund” and the “Asean Legal Information Portal” redevelopment, with RM500,000 allocation each.

The welfare fund aims to help UM’s law graduates from the bottom 40% income group backgrounds in their learning process.

The ceremony was also attended by UM’s law alumni namely the Court of Appeal president, Chief Justice of Malaya, Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak, High Court judges, Court of Appeal judges, Federal Court judges and deputy prosecutors, judicial commissioners and legal officers.

PARFUM president Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the association aims to assist as many Malaysians who are unable to afford legal aid services and they intend to start a legal aid clinic programme.

“The ‘alumni centric’ programme is also open to all lawyers, including those who are not from UM. It is our great hope that this legal aid clinic will be able to complement, assist and enhance the existing legal aid mechanism through the government, Bar Council and other organisations. 

“We hope to kickstart the legal aid clinic by the end of the year so this will be a platform for former graduates to show their devotion by serving for free,” she said.

The pilot programme is expected to start at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex with some criminal cases, especially in the Subordinate Courts by the consent and cooperation of Malaysia’s Chief of Justice.

Moreover, PARFUM will also begin its “PARFUM Jurist Lecture Series” annual event.

“This will work as a platform for consultation for legal figures and the judiciary from within and outside the country, to discuss in depth about its interesting legislation and importance,” Shahrizat added.

UM’s Faculty of Law Dean and Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Johan Shamsuddin Sabaruddin said the celebration was held to strengthen the bonds between the alumni and the faculty through the many programs that have been planned throughout the year.

He hoped that this would make the faculty’s 50th anniversary memorable while also passing on the baton to future generations.

“The 50th anniversary of the establishment of the faculty and the faculty of law has grown from only 50 students in the first year to 160 undergraduate students a year (internal students), 450 postgraduate students, of which 110 are pursuing PhD (internal and distance) and more than 300 overseas students.

“Over its five decades, the faculty has grown from an educational institution to a professional environment which aims to achieve excellence in education and the legal profession,” he explained.

UM’s Faculty of Law awarded its first bachelor’s degree in 1976, while the first Master’s graduates received their scroll in 1978 followed by the PhD award in 1980.

These were the first batch of lawyers who received their scrolls from UM’s former chancellor Bahiyah Tuanku Abdul Rahman who was also the late Sultanah of Kedah.

The faculty’s notable alumni also include Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Azalina Othman, and Energy and Natural Resources minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.

“These names are not the only shining stars from the Faculty of Law. The faculty is currently producing various famous personalities who have crossed the realm of excellence of the Faculty since its inception,” Johan Shamsuddin added.