KUALA LUMPUR: Azalina Othman Said today revealed that a majority of the cases handled by the legal aid bureau are divorce cases, despite it offering public services to resolve other legal issues.
“And this has given the public the impression that the bureau is a ‘department for divorce’.
“This is not right,” the de facto law minister said when winding up a debate on the Legal Aid (amendment) bill 2017 at the Dewan Rakyat today.
The bill was passed today and will be further debated at the Dewan Negara.
Azalina said the bureau also helped those entangled in other civil matters and criminal proceedings.
These include cases related to the Child Act, money lending and matrimony.
“It is vast. But all the cases that come to us are always about divorce.
“The cases that go to court are one issue. They claim that they can’t afford it, but when they go to court, there is money there.”
Earlier, some MPs argued that the amendments should also include the provision of such services for foreign nationals, claiming that such an omission was discriminatory.
To this, Azalina said the legal aid was run by taxpayers’ money and that foreigners could go to their respective embassies and relevant NGOs for assistance.
The bill, among others, was to ensure underage victims of sexual violence have access to legal advice.
It will also include the term “legal companion” services to be extended to children who are victims of any form of sexual misconduct provided for under any written law.