Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chief judge proposes tribunal for Sabah, Sarawak native land cases

Chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum today suggested the authorities consider the establishment of a tribunal to look into cases of Native Customary Rights land.

He said the courts in Sabah and Sarawak were burdened by NCR land cases which took a long time to settle.

"It is a tedious process involving many witnesses and many interpreters due to dialect problems," he said, adding that Sabah alone had over 45 known dialects while Sarawak had more.

Addressing the opening of Legal Year 2016 for Sabah and Sarawak at the Sibu Court Complex today, Malanjum said the members of the tribunal should include those knowledgeable in native land claims.

One option was to have a reconstituted Bumiputera/Native Court with judges familiar with native land claims and disputes. 

Twenty new cases were registered in Sarawak last year, with Sibu and Kuching recording the highest number of seven cases each, and Miri and Bintulu, three each.

Twenty cases were disposed of last year, with 28 still pending.

In Sabah, 10 new cases were registered last year with five still pending.

Malanjum said NCR cases involved not only legal issues but also cultural and traditional elements or dimensions where one had to be a historian, an anthropologist, a spiritualist and, at times, a semi-politician when dealing with them.

"If the latter two elements are ignored, the natives will be most unhappy and may even perform the 'Miring' ceremony in the court premises, and will not accept any decision of the court even though it may have impeccably followed the law," he said.

He also said the Native Court could be accorded the same standing as the Shariah Court and brought under the umbrella of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution. – Bernama, January 22, 2016.

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