The National Legal Aid Committee (“NLAC”) is co–chaired by Ravi Nekoo and Mureli Navaratnam for the 2012/2013 term. The Co–Deputy Chairpersons are Sulaiman Abdullah, Rajpal Singh Mukhtiar Singh and Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal.
There are 24 members in NLAC, including 13 outstation members. The Chairperson of each of the Bar Council (“BC”) State Legal Aid Centres (“LACs”) is a de facto member of NLAC.
NLAC supervises the operations and management of 16 LACs throughout Peninsular Malaysia. It is driven on the following missions:
(1) To contribute to the building of a just nation by providing legal representation and assistance to the marginalised, the underprivileged and the disadvantaged in society, and ensuring their constitutional right to access to justice is not denied;(2) To promote legal aid as a fundamental human right where access to justice is available fairly and impartially to everyone; and
(3) To incorporate legal awareness into legal aid through legal information, legal knowledge and legal education which go towards promoting a just and fair society.
Since 2010, NLAC has been occupied with the proposal to set up Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kebangsaan (“YBGK”) or National Legal Aid Foundation. YBGK is an initiative proposed by NLAC to improve access to justice in Malaysia by providing legal assistance to those ensnared in the criminal justice system. The proposal was first sent through BC to the Prime Minister in 2009 and was revisited in 2010.
The efforts came to fruition when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib b Tun Abdul Razak launched YBGK as a company limited by guarantee on 25 Feb 2011. YBGK officially began operation on 2 Apr 2012. The objective of YBGK is to provide legal representation to all arrested persons at the police station and at remand hearings. To realise this objective, from 2011 onwards, NLAC has been conducting YBGK training in all the states throughout Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak. At the time of writing this report, over 700 lawyers have attended YBGK training. These lawyers will be present at various police stations and remand courts to provide legal representation to arrested persons. At this stage there will be no means test conducted. A means test will only be conducted at the trial stage.
NLAC supervises the delivery of YBGK services by LACs through its monthly meetings. To promote positive working relations with the law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary under the YBGK initiative, BC LACs attend and arrange regular meetings at the state level with the authorities.
Apart from the strenuous efforts in making sure YBGK operations run smoothly, LACs also maintain their regular operations of rendering legal aid/legal representation/legal intervention in civil and criminal matters to Malaysians and non–Malaysians, arranging prison visits to give advice to detainees, and organising outreach programmes to educate the public on their legal and human rights.
As part of the outreach programmes, NLAC is working towards the launch of the updated law awareness pamphlets. The printing of the updated law awareness pamphlets is being funded by CIMB Foundation. The updated pamphlets to be launched are:
Ravi Nekoo and Mureli Navaratnam
National Legal Aid Committee
Dated 27 Aug 2012
Ravi Nekoo (Co–Chairperson) | Mureli Navaratnam (Co–Chairperson) | Sulaiman Abdullah (Co–Deputy Chairperson) | Rajpal Singh Mukhtiar Singh (Co–Deputy Chairperson) | Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal (Co–Deputy Chairperson) | Abdul Fareed b Abdul Gafoor | Edwin Seibel s/o Vethakan Pakiannathan | Fatima bt Tahir Ali | Geetha d/o Kesavan Nair | Harleen Kaur d/o Tarjeet Singh | Jason Kay Kit Leon | Kunasegaran s/o Nadasen | Mahfuzah bt Mahmud | Mohamad Nor Hisam b Hussain | Mohan d/o M.Sankaran | Mohd Zamri b Md. Jail | Muhammad Hasif b Hasan | Navaneetha Krishnan s/o Muthuvelu Pillay, Chris | Navinder Kaur Jessy | Nurul Aznie bt Ibrahim | Ramesh K Supramaniam | Ramesh s/o Lachmanan | Siti Razasah bt Abd Razak | Zulaikha bt Fardi | Adilah Ariffin (until 31 Aug 2012); Keshrinder Singh (from 1 Sept 2012) (Officer–in–charge)