The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) introduced the Public Defenders Bill for First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill, when enacted, will provide for the establishment of the Public Defender’s Office as a department under MinLaw to administer criminal legal aid.
The bill provides for the appointment of a Chief Public Defender and outlines the scope of legal aid coverage.
The new Department would operate alongside the current legal aid system, providing legal aid to more vulnerable Singaporeans. The ceiling for legal aid will be raised from $950 to $1,500 in monthly per capita household income meaning more accused will have access to the system. The scope of legal aid will also be expanded to all but regulatory ones such as traffic offences. This means more Singaporeans, unable to afford a lawyer, will have access to legal aid when accused of a crime.