KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Helping more individuals get out of bankruptcy, strengthening legal aid services and dealing with scammers are among the three main focuses of the Unity Government in realising institutional reform and strengthening the country’s laws next year.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said next year would also see the implementation of all new or amended bills approved in 2023.

She said the basis was to ensure that the country’s legal system was people-centric or benefited the people as per the courtesy aspect of the Madani concept supported by the Unity Government.

“What’s the point of the government spending a lot on the law but the people don’t feel the benefit, we want to implement the law, and (bring) institutional reform, we need to measure the hardship of the people as part of the success of the reform we want to bring, because the people are our main customers.

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“That’s why this year, we have helped 38,749 individuals get out of bankruptcy, that’s a progressive number and next year we aim to help another 130,000 more people, this is the courtesy (aspect) of the Madani (concept), to give this group a second chance,” she said during the Ruang Bicara programme broadcast live on Bernama TV last night.

The Insolvency (Amendment) Act 2023 [A1695] which came into force on Oct 6 gives a second chance to bankrupt individuals to lead better lives and be able to contribute to the country’s economic development.

Azalina said another aspect of the legislation that would be focused on in 2024 was legal aid, by having more roadshows as well as the ‘Justice on Wheels’ programme.

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“For example, in Sabah and Sarawak there are mobile courts, but there is no mobile legal aid, so what’s the use of that if they don’t have the opportunity to use their rights under the law, they don’t know who to consult,” she said.

According to Azalina, the Cyber Court, which will manage legislation related to scammers or cyber and digital fraud, things such as cryptocurrency, e-wallet and all related platforms will be empowered next year.

She said the existence of the Cyber Court in line with the progress of cases on fast-moving digital platforms required new expertise for the prosecution and judges because it involved different aspects of proof.

“The analogy is that the victim is preyed upon because there is no proof, all the evidence is gone before it can be traced, it’s fast in this digital world, and that’s why we have to have legislation that is parallel to this fast-paced world,” she said.

Commenting on the Unity Government’s achievements over the past year, Azalina said 2023 could be described as the first phase in efforts to implement institutional reform under the Malaysia Madani framework.

She said transparency and better governance could be seen when the Auditor General’s Report and the Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) were debated in Parliament for the first time.

“This year, we also touched on bankruptcy law, the Legal Aid Department, criminal law review, the Sexual Offences Against Children (Amendment) Bill 2023, the (abolishment of the) mandatory death penalty which now gives greater discretion to the judges and the Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign States Bill 2023,” she said.

Azalina said all processes involving amendments or the drafting of new bills to make institutional reform successful required a lot of time and the involvement of many stakeholders.

“It’s not that the Dewan Rakyat sits for 300 days a year, so it takes time to develop, to discuss and we are in a Federal format, there is a Constitution, there is a federal list, a state list and a concurrent list, so there are things that need to take into account the views of the respective state governments as well,” she said. — Bernama