As such the best solution for Dayaks seeking a solution following the recent federal court ruling is to approach the Sarawak Council of Native Customary Laws.
KUCHING: The Sarawak Attorney General, who is allegedly not Dayak-friendly, stands in the way of amendments to the native ‘adat’ and customs, claimed a leading native customary rights (NCR) lawyer here.
Baru Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chief, described the state A-G as the ‘biggest hurdle’ to the process.
“But the biggest obstacle is that the Attorney General is not with the Dayaks. He is against the Dayaks and the one who argues against us right from the High Court to the Federal Court on NCR land cases.
“He is not with you if you talk about ‘pemakai menua’ (territorial forest) and ‘pulau galau’ (reserved forest). So what is good for us may not be good for the Attorney General,” said Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.
Bian was commenting on a resolution passed in a recent Dayak symposim held here to seek the government to review and amend the adat and customs related to the native community.
The resolution was in response to a federal court ruling in July in the which declared that it is illegal for a Iban to sell his NCR land to another Iban or to non-natives.
Such land could only be passed on to his own relatives through the concept of ‘Tungkus Asi’.
The Court also rules out that it is also illegal for natives to have any joint venture with non-natives on their NCR land. This has
Bian suggested the more plausible route to approach the Council of Native Customary Laws (Majlis Adat Istiadat) instead
“It is not the government which should amend the adat and customs of the Dayak people. They should go and approach the Council of Native Customary Laws (Majlis Adat Istiadat) which has been empowered by the government to review, codify, publish and enforce the adat and customs.
“Therefore I suggest that we must first amend the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak Ordinance 1977 especially this clause 3 of Section 3 as we give the Attorney General the power to be consulted on our adat,” he said.
Amend Clause 3 first
Bian further highlighted clause 3 in Section 3 of the ordinance stated: Without prejudice to subsection (1) and (2), it shall also be the functions of the Majlis to advise any person or body of persons either on its own motion or on being referred to I by such person or body of persons, on matters relating to the customary law and adat of the natives, and shall in all such matters be the authority in Sarawak:
‘Provided that, the Majlis shall, before giving any advice under this subsection, consult the State Attorney General whose opinion on any legal issue that may be contained or raised in the advice shall be taken into consideration by the Majlis.
“Why should you subject your customs and adat to someone else, when in fact the community and the community leaders would be the power and the final authority on the adat,” Bian argued.
He said that if Dayak leaders are really serious about wanting to amend the land code in reference to the sale of the NCR land, then they should go back to the Majlis.
He said the Dayaks community could not seek to amend the Land Law before amending the Majlis Ordinance
“This will be the biggest hurdle that the community will face,” he said.
Bian also reminded that Land Law had been amended 13 years ago, but had not been gazetteed into law.