Legal aid fund should be set up in face of looming ‘bankruptcy timebomb’: Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, July 21: The Federal Government and the State Government should consider looking into allocating funds to form a legal aid fund, specifically for civil cases.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii suggested this in view of the expected surge in cases due to employment matters, and the possible “bankruptcy timebomb”, especially after the bank moratorium is lifted as reported in the news.

Dr Yii also said that the governments must make sure that people get proper access to justice and not be left out just because of their socio-economic conditions, especially as the country is bracing for the economic impact of the Covid-19 virus.

“Sarawak government can show the way by being proactive in setting up such special legal aid fund to address the urgent need during this period especially to provide equitable ‘access to justice’ for all, even those that may not be able to afford a lawyer.

“Currently, the government only provides legal aid mainly for criminal cases and certain civil cases, but due to our current circumstances, we will see an increase due to more and more of the rakyat are suffering from loss of jobs, reduction of income, cancellation or breach of business contracts, foreclosure disputes, banking disputes and of course the possible increase of bankruptcy especially after the lifting of the moratorium,” Yii said in a statement, today.

For such cases, he pointed out that the courts are normally needed to resolve the disputes and to ascertain the ability to obtain the necessary reliefs specific to their case.

“However, many of them especially those that are financially affected, may not be able to afford a lawyer. So I see this as a good opportunity for both the federal government and even state government to step in and allocate a specific sum either into Jabatan Bantuan Guaman (JBG) or even to Bar Council or in the case of Sarawak, The Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), to help provide these services to those that need them,” Yii said.

For borrowers who are finding problems to pay back their bank loans after the moratorium ends, Yii advised them to apply to join debt management programmes provided by Agensi Kaunselling & Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK) under Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to help restructure and reschedule their loans in a more targeted manner.—DayakDaily