Malaysia needs a total overhaul of the justice system to ensure it delivers "Justice For All" and not as at present, where it is weighted in favour of the rich and powerful against the ordinary citizen, in particular the poor and needy.
Four decades after independence in 1957, the biggest defect of the Malaysian system of justice is that justice is becoming more and more inaccessible to all Malaysians, because of its cost, delay, uncertainty and its failure to be undestood and responsive to the needs of those who use it.
The judiciary’s proposal for hourly hearing fees in civil cases will put justice even further beyond the reach of the ordinary citizens, in particular the poor and needy and will not be conducive to the introduction of a fair and efficient justice system which will be clearer, fairer and better than the present one as to make justice available to all the people.
In fact, the judiciary’s proposal if accepted will only further disillusion the poor and needy about the system of justice as it would reinforce their belief that justice in Malaysia can only be afforded by those with the financial means.
A Commission or a Task Force, comprising representatives from the judiciary, the practising bar and the public should be set up to make proposals for comprehensive reforms to modernise the system of justice in Malaysia to bring about a significant increase in access to justice and to ensure that the poor and needy are not excluded from justice because of its cost, delay and the overall lack of public understanding as to how the system of justice works.
The Judiciary’s proposal for hourly hearing fees should be submitted to this Commission or Task Force as part of its terms of reference for a report on the "Modernisation of the Justice System in Malaysia".