23 JANUARY 2016
The Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak has once again called for a Native Tribunal to be set up in Sabah and Sarawak to hear cases concerning native customary rights lands, which often involve lengthy hearings and many different native dialects.
The CJSS’s has been calling for the setting up of a Native Tribunal since 2012. Also in 2012, the Bar Council called for a specialised Indigenous People’s Court to be established. In 2013, the Human Rights Commission recommended that a Native Title Court and an ‘Orang Asal Land Commission’ be set up to look into and hear cases involving native rights. I have voiced my support each time this subject was raised and I have also brought this up in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.
The indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah, and also of Peninsula Malaysia are the most marginalized and disadvantaged communities in this country, and are often exploited by the powerful. Their socio-economic position has remained more or less static over the last 50 years. Those that have had their lands taken from them require swift redress, but that is often not the case in the present court system. Court hearings take a long time, with frequent adjournments. The indigenous people often have to travel long distances to attend court and there are often problems due to the dialects spoken. A specialized tribunal or court would go a long way in easing the burden of those that are involved in legal disputes.
Our commitment to restoring the land rights of the people is reflected in PKR’s 2013 Kuching Declaration and our 2015 18-Point Roadmap, in which we promise to set up a Land Commission and implement the proposals set out by Suhakam in their Report of the National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
It is disappointing that despite repeated calls by the CJSS and statements by the Bar Council and SUHAKAM, the AG and the Chief Justice have remained silent on the matter. I would like to ask for some response from them, as this is an issue of timely justice for the native people of the land. Even more disappointing is the silence by most of the Dayak BN leaders in Sarawak. It is time that they speak up for the rights of their people, and I hope that they will all come out to support Tan Sri Richard Malanjum’s call.
N70 Ba’ Kelalan
Note: Some references to our earlier statements: