SIBU: Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum today suggested that the authorities seriously 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 that took much 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 here today, Malanjum said the members of the tribunal should include those knowledgeable in native land claims.
An option was to have a reconstituted Bumiputra/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, leaving 28 still pending. As for Sabah, 10 new cases were registered last year and five were 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
“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 that the Native Court could be accorded the same standing as the Syariah Court and brought under the umbrella of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution. – BERNAMA