KUCHING, April 3: Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) and the Native Court are independent institutions empowered by different ordinances, highlighted Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.
“Although MAIS and the Native Court are administratively part of the Chief Minister’s Office, they are separate and independent institutions, with powers and functions as provided for in the Majlis Adat Istiadat Ordinance and the Native Courts Ordinance respectively.
“They exercise statutory powers in accordance to these ordinances,” he said in a statement today.
He was responding to Dayak National Congress (DNC) president Paul Raja’s statement that was published by DayakDaily yesterday.
Paul asserted that MAIS should be an independent institution instead of being a unit under the Chief Minister’s Office, as the Native Court must be free from government influence.
Paul also proposed that judges of the Native Court should be professionally trained by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) or MAIS, instead of appointing retired civil servants “who have lost interest to work hard”.
To rebut, Gerawat said the Native Court of Appeal has always been presided by a professional judge.
“The Native Court of Appeal, which is the highest court, is presided by a judge who is either a judge of the High Court or who is constitutionally qualified to be appointed as a High Court judge.”
“The president of the Native Court of Appeal is appointed by the Tuan Yang Terutama (TYT) under the Native Courts Ordinance.
“The Native Courts are independent in the exercise of their powers under the Native Courts Ordinance,” shared Gerawat.
Meanwhile, Gerawat also pointed out that the Sarawak government was in the midst of restructuring the Native Courts of Sarawak.
A Steering Committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has been set up to study and make recommendations on the restructuring and elevation of the Native Courts of Sarawak, including a review of all related laws and regulations, including relevant provisions in the State and Federal Constitutions.
“The committee has set up a working committee to study the detail aspects of the structure, jurisdiction, judges, and status of the Native Courts vis a vis the civil courts and Syariah court.”
“Legal experts will be engaged to assist the working committee in this study and their recommendations will be forwarded to the Steering Committee for review before its submission to the Cabinet,” he said.
As the study would be thorough and comprehensive and involve much fieldwork and engagement with various stakeholders, including community leaders, he expected it to take about nine months to complete. — DayakDaily