Dayaks must know how NCR law works in Malaysia — Voon

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, Sept 12: It is very unlikely that native customary rights (NCR) cases can be won against the state government and companies that were alienated with NCR land in the future, opined Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan.

In response to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling on tuai rumah Sandah Tabau and Siew Libau cases, Voon lamented that the people, especially the Dayaks, must know how the law in Malaysia works and how politics could play a part in “taking away” their land.

According to him, the two Iban communities from Kanowit and Sibu have lost their bid to review the previous Federal Court’s ruling that their native custom has no force of law in Sarawak.

“Please understand that it is the government that alienates the land to the government controlled companies. When that happens, they could encroach into the communal land or territorial domain (pemakai menoa) and forest reserves (pulau galau),” Voon said in a statement.

He added that NCR is under Sarawak Land Code and has nothing to do with National Land Code.

“Dayak must know all court cases touching on NCR land. The state government is the defendant and the companies that had been alienated with the NCR Land will be joint defendants in court.

“Most people in the rural areas are not aware of this legal rule. When the state government and company lost, they will then appeal.

“When the state government won and company won, the Dayak NCR owner may wish to appeal to a higher court. The final or highest court to appeal in Malaysia is the Federal Court,” he explained.

Voon pointed out that although the state assembly (DUN) makes the law, it is the court that interprets and decides on the law.

He opined that NCR land owners might face difficulty in winning as court decision might consider factors such as the huge investments involved. The court might consider not leaving the land idle without giving revenue to the government.

“These grounds may not appear in the judgement but the court could be influenced by such thought,” Voon said.

He opined that the judges, who normally from the peninsula, may not know the spiritual attachment of the Dayaks to their NCR Land. He added that in Peninsular Malaysia, there is no NCR Land but wakaf and mukim.

“It is for this reason we need more judges from Borneo to sit in the Appeal Courts when cases of such importance are heard. In this appeal case, only Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah (who is a Sabahan) was in the panel before the Federal Court,” Voon said. — DayakDaily