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2010-02-17

REPORT OF THE LEGAL AID SUB-COMMITTEE


The Management Panel - (Legal Aid And Human Rights

Sub-Committee)

The management panel for the year 2009/2010 comprises of the following members:-

Chairman : Mr. Domnic Selvam Gnanapragasam

Head of Orang Asli Affairs BCHRC : Mr. Augustine Anthony

Advisor/Deputy Chair : Ms. Lee Pooi Mun

Executive Legal Officer : Mr. M. Gokoolaram Naidu

Committee Members : Dato’ Hjh. Shamsuriah Bt. Sulaiman

Mr. T. Shan

Mr. M. Vengetraman

Mr. M. Thangaveloo

Mr. Joseph Sebestian

Mr. Nahtan Krishnan

Mr. Kenny Lai Choe Ken

Miss Thiru Mangai

Mr. Charan Singh

Ms. Yokinee AT Selvam

Mr. Dexter Mah Kok Leong

Mr. N. P. Ramachandran

Mr. Navaneetha Krishnan

Human Rights Activities

Orang Asli Project

We have been actively involved in this project for the past 5 years. Whenever we are called for assistance by the orang asli villagers, we listen to their grouses and thereupon offer basic advise including legal advice (if necessary) in simple easy to understand manner. Instead of doing everything for them, we will usually guide them into taking a series of action that empower them to face the challenges that confront them. At the same time we will periodically monitor and check on their progress.

A meeting with was held on 07.01.09 at Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah, Batang Padang, Tapah to look into the complaints made by the orang asli villagers of Pos Bersih over heavy erosion caused by sand mining activities which have affected the livelihood of the villagers. The meeting was chaired by the District Officer Dato Zamiri.

Later on the same day another meeting was held at the Kuala Lumpur Central Market to discuss a state level gathering of Malaysia’s Aboriginal Community sponsored by Perak State Government to provide greater awareness to the public of their plight.

On 19.02.09 a meeting was held at Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah, Slim River to discuss land trespass and illegal logging activities at Ulu Slim in Slim River. The meeting was chaired by the District Officer of Slim River.

A talk was held in Kampong Sungei Genting in Chendriang, Tapah on 17.05.09 to empower the orang asli villagers on their rights, land grab, compensation and recognition of ancestral land.

A similar talk was held at Kampong Bilek in Tapah on 07.06.09 as the villagers there were faced with land encroachment and sought means to protect their land.

On 22.07.09 a law awareness program was held at Kampung Batu 14 in Tapah to empower the orang asli villagers and to guide them into taking a series of action to face the challenges that confront them.

A similar program was held on 08.08.09 in Kampong Sungei Tiang and Kampong Bahong Baru at the Pahang-Kelantan border.

On 09.08.09 we partook in World Aboriginal Day 2009 which was celebrated in Kampung Chang in Bidor. The annual celebration included speeches, cultural performance and exhibition.

A law awareness talk was held at Kampung Pahlawan in Langkap on 17.08.09 to provide greater awareness on land rights among other issues.

Another law awareness program was held on 23.08.09 in Kampung Sungei Terisu at the Kelantan-Pahang border to further empower the villagers to fend for themselves.

A visit was made to Gua Musang on 07.11.09 upon receiving distress calls from the villagers of Kampong Segar over the destruction of their ancestral graves and land clearing issues.

Law Awareness Programs

Perak Legal Aid Centre has for years been at the forefront of promoting law awareness among the people. Since we started this project, we have traveled extensively throughout the state and studied and observed exhaustively the condition of the poor and needy in order to ameliorate and endeavor to better their conditions.

A Law Awareness program was held at SMK Dato’ Haji Taib in Chemor on 20.06.09. The talk was on juvenile delinquencies, gangsterism, vandalism and disciplinary matters.

In conjunction with the National Law Awareness Week 2009, several programes were held at various towns in Perak. Three such programs were held in Dewan Merdeka at Lenggong on 22.10.09, Dewan Bunga Raya at Changkat Jering on 27.10.09 and Dewan Merdeka at Tapah on 25.11.09. All three programs were organised by Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita Negeri Perak.

The halls were packed even before the session began as between 350 to 400 participants turned up. Participants included staffs from various government departments, including school students, doctors and nurses, and members of the public.

As for the orang asli communities, two programs were held in Kampung Batu 15, Jalan Cameron Highland, Tapah on 26.10.09 and the other at Kampung Suak Padi, Bota on 27.10.09. Both these programs were well received by the villagers as the turn out was extremely good. The topic on Polis dan Hak Hak Asas Anda interested them and they seemed very receptive by judging from the queries raised during question and answer sessions.

Chambering students who participated were able to gain an insight into a completely different way of life as well appreciated and experience how people lived at such remote places. It was an enriching experience for them.

On-Going Activities

On 06.07.09 a visit was made to Kem Tahanan Kamunting (KEMTA) to provide legal assistance to the detainees and to assist the Bar Council’s Human-Rights Committee (BCHRC) team in any ongoing efforts being conducted on detainees behalf. During the period under review, 6 visits were made to the Tapah Prison and 4 visits were made to Taiping Prison respectively to assist remand prisoners in their bail applications and or legal representations. Our Centre also jointly works with Biro Bantuan Guaman to provide legal assistance to the needy.

The Chambering Pupils program is structured for a duration of 14 clinic days during which time they are given a run down of the Centre’s various projects and activities and are also urged to join them. They are also given guidance on how to interview clients and take instructions. At the end of their short-call period, pupils begin taking up matters by preparing for mitigations and subsequently conducting hearings. At all times they are guided by volunteer lawyers and other senior pupils who act as their mentors. Nineteen pupils enlisted with us underwent a Dock-Brief Training Program on 17.07.09. The pupils were given guidance on mitigation procedures, bail-application and handling of criminal cases.

Cases Handled

During the period under review there were a total of 503 consultations (inclusive of law awareness programs) with 138 new files being opened. The following is the breakdown of cases handled by the Centre:-

Matters Files Opened Consultaton Rejected Total

Criminal 35 23 39 97

Family 19 21 27 67

Employment 17 14 16 47

Summons/H P 15 23 18 56

Probate matters 12 33 17 62

I.C/Passport 27 36 42 105

Tenancy 13 22 34 69

----- ----- ----- -----

138 172 193 503

=== === === ===

The 193 rejected cases refer to matters where the clients either failed the compulsory Means Tests and\or matters which are not within the ambit of the Legal Aid Centre. There are also 27 active litigation files carried forward from the previous years bringing the total of active litigation files being handled for the current period to 165.

(Sgd)

Domnic Selvam Gnanapragasam

Chairman

Perak Legal Aid Centre and Human Rights Sub-Committee

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