Sarawak’s book on natives, a window to understand greater international indigenous community

Uggah (second right) receiving a copy of the book from Ramy (right). Also seen are Girish (left) and Chow.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 20: The “An Anthology of Indigenous Peoples’ Issues” book is important to encourage and promote a wider perspective and critical understanding of the various issues faced by indigenous people the world over including in Sarawak.

Launching the book today, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the book will benefit communities around the world as well as in Sarawak through its various insights on issues related to indigenous people.

“The book is a collection of articles that examines common issues faced by indigenous peoples the world over. It shows us that each country deals with issues specifically as their vision, needs and circumstances befit.

“As a native of Sarawak myself, I believe that it is of important relevance for the rights and issues affecting indigenous people all over the world to be discussed widely and rigorously by international communities,” he said at the book launching ceremony at a hotel here today.

Through the book, Uggah emphasised that people can learn from one another and establish policies and framework to meet the standards needed for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous community for the future generations.

“We can learn from other jurisdictions and apply it to our local circumstances. For example, the discussion on issues of indigeneity and native identity, cultural heritage, the vitality of our ‘adat’ (customs), the customary institution for resolving disputes and breaches of native law and customs, as well as the traditional and ecological knowledge that govern the customary practice of our people,” he said.

Co-organised by the Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF), Uggah who is on the foundation’s Board of Trustees, emphasised that it was very fitting for DCF to co-host this event in the spirit of encouraging research that benefits the general Dayak community.

More importantly, he said it is in line with Sarawak government’s Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 in which social inclusivity is one of the pillars of making Sarawak a thriving society.

He said that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has made policy amendments to protect and preserve the rights of the indigenous community in Sarawak, notably giving the concepts of “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” legal recognition and force of law by amending the Land Code as well as the transforming the Sarawak’s Native Court that deals with breaches of native laws and customs, native identity, untitled lands and minor offences that do not fall under the Penal Code remedies and compensations to become an independent and autonomous judicial institution.

“As a native and policy maker, I take pride with all the efforts and achievements made by our native community in Sarawak in the national and global stage,” he added.

Uggah congratulated Dr Ramy Bulan and Charles CJ Chow for editing the book, as well as Centre for Legal Pluralism, Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya for coming out with the publication.

Publisher Thomson Reuters/Sweet & Maxwell Malaysia country head Girish Kamat was also present. — DayakDaily