KUCHING, July 11: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today commented that Baru Bian’s (PKR-Ba’Kelalan) Private Member’s Bill to amend the Land Code last year was shot down in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly because it was not comprehensive and lacked depth.
He said Baru’s proposal amounted to “merely a token gesture or attempt to give recognition to territorial domain”.
Uggah who is also Bukit Saban assemblyan said Baru’s proposed bill also did not seek to confer any proprietary rights on territorial domain, did not provide for the issue of title to territorial domain land, did not grant title in perpetuity to territorial domain, and did not provide for the exclusion or carving out of native customary rights (NCR) and territorial domain from provisional leases.
“The proposed Private Member’s Bill sought to amend Section 2 of the Land Code by merely adding a definition of ‘Communal Land’ to mean ‘native customary land or territorial domain created in accordance with the customs of the natives of Sarawak’.
“He also proposed to amend the definition of ‘Customary Law’ to mean ‘a custom or body of customs or practice of the native community to which the law of Sarawak gives effect, including the custom of communal native land or territorial domain’,” said Uggah when tabling the Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 at Sarawak Legislative Assembly.
He said the issue on native territorial domain was quite complex and the Private Member’s Bill proposed by Baru did not quite deal with the subject in a comprehensive and in-depth manner, unlike the way the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 does.
“I must reiterate that the objective of this Amendment Bill is to give the custom and practice of native territorial domain legal force. This is further strengthened by granting native communal title in perpetuity.
“This is the solution by the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government to resolve the controversy surrounding the territorial domain issue. Secondly, this amendment also put in place the principle of deferred indefeasibility in relation to provisional leases. These are the goodies that was announced by YAB CM in his speech while officiating at the state-level Gawai Dayak 2018 celebration on June 26, 2018,” said Uggah.
On the “Director of Forests, Sarawak & Anor v. Tr Sandah Tabau & Ors and others” case, where the Federal Court ruled that the native customs of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ (PMPG) had no force of law, the government had two options to respond to the Federal Court’s ruling.
He said firstly, to allow the controversy to be resolved in court or to consider a possible political solution.
“Allahyarham Tok Nan (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem), then, was determined and committed to respond through Option 2. Therefore, he had directed us to pursue Option 2 and find a possible political solution to resolve the issue revolving around PMPG, as reflected in the case of Director of Forests, Sarawak & anor v. Tr Sandah Tabau and others.
“Even on his death bed, Allahyarham Tok Nan reminded me to settle the issue. That showed the depth of his commitment to the PM/PG issue and his support to resolve the matter through a political solution.”