The Court of Appeal sitting in Kuching yesterday confirmed that ‘pemakai menoa' (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau' (reserved forests) as native customary land (NCL) under the Iban adat or custom in Sarawak, thus handing another embarrassing and humiliating defeat to the Sarawak government.

The decision by the three-judge panel comprising Ramly Ali, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, and Mohd Zawawi Salleh is certain to cause jitters to the administration as well as to scores of giant companies which had cultivated oil palm on such land.

There are more than 200 similar cases pending hearing in the court.
The decision was made on two cases namely High Court Suit No 22-43-2000-I in which Luking anak Uding and two others of Tuai Rumah Luang, Merakai, Serian sued the Superintendent of Land & Surveys, Kota Samarahan and three others and High Court Suit No. 22-249-98-III (I),where Tuai Rumah Nyutan ak Jami and two others sued Land Custody Development Authority (LCDA) and two others. 

In Luking's case the disputed area is about 9,000ha fully planted with oil palm, while in Nyutan's , the area is over 4,857ha, also fully planted with the crop.

In both cases, the three defendants were the same i.e, LCDA, Nirwarna Muhibbah Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak government.

In view of the commonality of the parties in these two suits and because one of the provisional Leases (PLs) overlapped with the NCL of both of the Iban plaintiffs in these two cases, the appeals were consolidated.

Old Malay saying manifests itself

While LCDA is a government subsidiary, Nirwarna Muhibbah Sdn Bhd is owned by Assistant Minister Naroden Majais and his wife.

NONEThe Court of Appeal ordered costs of RM10, 000 to be paid by each of the appellants/defendants and RM5,000 by each intervener to the plaintiffs/respondents.
Meanwhile, Harrison Ngau (left), representing Luking Anak Uding and two others, quoted the Malay saying ‘biar mati anak jangan mati adat' (Let the child die but not culture). 
"This is what the natives had wanted that their ‘adat' of ‘pemakai menua' and ‘pulau galau' must be preserved and respected.

"All natives in Sarawak should defend this sacred ‘adat' and heritage of theirs which our forefathers had passed on to us and which we in turn will have to pass to our future generations," he said.

~ Malaysiakini