Bar deplores ‘fraud’ allegations in legal aid scheme

Steven-ThiruKUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar takes a serious view of allegations of unlawful conduct by Members of the Bar, including the filing of fraudulent claims under the National Legal Aid Foundation (YBGK) scheme.

Malaysian Bar President Steven Thiru was commenting on the reported prosecution of two legal aid lawyers in Kelantan, under Section 18 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

The lawyers were brought to the Kota Baru Sessions Court on October 20.

The Malaysian Bar is holding a watching brief on the matter, Thiru said in a statement released today.

When charges were preferred against the two lawyers, Norazham Yahaya — Chairman of the Kelantan Bar Committee and a member of the Bar Council — held a watching brief for the Malaysian Bar, he added.

Thiru also stressed that the Malaysian Bar is deeply committed to the effectiveness, development and growth of the legal aid scheme.

“It’s about upholding access to justice for the people. Hence, the prosecution of two Members of the Bar should not be a distraction.

“YBGK performs an essential role. YBGK lawyers have been making an invaluable contribution to the fundamental right of access to justice,” Thiru said.

According to Malaysian Bar figures, more than 900 YBGK lawyers have represented over 500,000 accused persons over the last four-and-a-half years.

The YBGK scheme, which kicked off in 2012, provides free legal representation to accused persons.

Such legal representation is undertaken by Members of the Bar, at nominal rates.

YBGK provides a comprehensive and sustainable legal aid programme for those embroiled in the criminal justice system.

YBGK is also an important collaboration between the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak, the Sabah Law Association and the Malaysian Government.