Law Awareness Campaign at TESCO Melaka

Economic Downturn; Legal Aid Slowdown…


Malacca, 17th & 18th Jan 2009 :- It was supposed to be one of the most crowded places in Malacca for grocery shopping. As Chinese New Year was just around the corner in precisely a week, it was no surprise that TESCO Melaka attracted lots of shoppers during the weekend. Yet people from all throngs of life strolled down the stall aisles, walking past the Malacca Bar Committee’s Law Awareness Campaign Booth. Despite the premise of free legal advice, the majority of people were indifferent.


The objective of this campaign was to instill an awareness and appreciation of the law to the public. The Legal Aid Centre, an affiliate of the Malacca Bar Committee sought to provide free legal advice to the public to pursue this aim. Mr. Nizam Bashir, Chairman for the Legal Aid Sub-Committee said that by virtue of having this campaign, it is hoped that public trust for the legal profession would increase and that the layperson has no qualms about relying on the advocate and solicitor for impartial advice. Furthermore this campaign was a good opportunity for lawyers to be involved in civil society.


The Law Awareness Campaign started at 9.30 am ended at 5.00 pm on both days. Volunteer lawyers, chambering pupils and MMU final year students manned the booth. Leaflets were distributed by chambering pupils at various TESCO entrances to attract the public to drop by at the booth. MMU students were stationed at the booth itself to register the applicants. Legal advice comprised a wide spectrum of topics; ranging from customs law, income tax issues, land matters, marriage and divorce, will-making, accident cases to housing law.


Chairman of the Malacca Bar Committee, Mr. Ng Kong Peng who was present at the campaign expressed satisfaction in the attendance of volunteers managing the campaign and the public’s response to the campaign given that there was a lack of advertising this year compared to last year where over two hundred applicants sought legal advice. This year, a combination of both Saturday and Sunday saw approximately only sixty people seeking legal advice.


A volunteer lawyer, Mr. Wong Fook Meng opined that the economic downturn has probably indirectly affected the public’s participation in the campaign as they seek to cut cost and thus shy away from legal issues. Fellow volunteer lawyer, Mr. Damian Yeo said that less queries from the public could also mean that people were not burdened with legal problems, which was good for society.


Despite the mediocre response from the public, the campaign ended on a high note with this promise:- Empowerment of society via an awareness in the law transcends over minor setbacks. The Malacca Bar Committee is committed in its aim to empower society with a working knowledge of the law; vital as it is in this era of globalization in the 21st century.


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