KUCHING: State PKR chairman Baru Bian has suggested that the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak 1977 Ordinance be amended to facilitate amendments to the Sarawak Land Code.
He rated provision 3(3) of the Ordinance as the biggest hurdle in getting the Land Code amended because the Majlis Adat Istiadat had to consult the State Attorney-General on legal issues.
“Why should you subject customary laws to someone else when community leaders, I would say, has the final authority on the ‘adat’.
“The Majlis itself should listen to community leaders in terms of adat istiadat,” he told reporters at PKR Sarawak office yesterday.
Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman and a native customary rights (NCR) land lawyer, was commenting on a recent resolution passed by the Iban Cultural Symposium 2013. The resolution wants the state government to amend the Land Code in order to give recognition to and validate sale of NCR land.
Baru said under provision 3(1)(a) of the Ordinance, the Majlis shall review from time to time the customary laws of the natives and make recommendations to the State Cabinet relating to their applications, codification, publication and enforcement.
But under 3(3) of the same Ordinance, the Majlis shall, before giving any advice under this subsection, consult the State Attorney-General, whose opinion on any legal issues that may be contained or raised in the advice shall be taken into consideration by the Majlis.
“My point is that when you talk about ‘pemakai menua’, ‘pulau galau’ and sale of native customary rights land, the State Attorney-General is not with you.
“And he is the one who argued against us right from the High Court to the Federal Court “So, what I am saying is that what you think may be good for you may not be good for the State Attorney-General. Therefore, I suggest that this provision be amended.”
Calls to amend the Land Code have grown ever since the Federal Court ruled on July 11, 2013, that NCR land cannot be transferred by sale and purchase agreements.
The Court had dismissed the appeal by Bisi Jinggot against the lower courts’ decisions to refuse him a declaration that he had acquired NCRs over several lots of land at Sungai Agas in Matang, near Kuching.
This had caused alarm among the Dayak communities since the sale of NCR lands among Dayaks are prevalent and acceptable among Dayaks in the state for many years.