Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak should be an independent body, says NGO

Paul Raja

KUCHING, April 2: Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) should be an independent institution, instead of a unit under the Chief Minister’s Office.

In making this stand, Dayak National Congress (DNC) president Paul Raja insisted that the Native Court must be free from government influence.

“Those in the office must be trained career people, instead of retired civil servants who no longer have the interest to work hard,” he said in a statement today.

He was responding to a comment by Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who held the view that native courts should be presided over by trained judges.

Richard said there were no trained judges handling Native Courts affairs in Sabah as the appointment of Native Courts judges were often due to political support.

He felt such appointments were irrational as one should undergo specific training in law to become a judge.

To train native judges, Paul’s pick is Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), adding that the course should include subjects concerning native ‘adat’, court procedures, evidence-gathering and jurisprudence.

“Unimas is the right institution to train native court judges,” he said.

Alternatively, MAIS should set up an institution to train native court officers.

To Paul, such a step is long overdue.

“The responsibility of this is on the state government, as the native custom is a state matter under the Federal Constitution,” he argued.

In terms of legality, he said laws must be enacted to empower the Native Court.

“The necessary laws must also be enacted to provide for the new court structure,” said Paul. — DayakDaily