‘Native Court appropriate body to hear NCR land cases, not Federal Court’

KUCHING, Feb 27: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing believes that the Federal Court should not hear native land cases and let the Native Court handle them.

Masing who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president took the inspiration from the Federal Court ruling over the jurisdiction to hear apostasy cases today.

“The judgement of the Federal Court which allows apostasy case to be heard by the Syariah Court opens another means that the Native Court should be allowed to hear NCR (native customary rights) land dispute cases.”

“The Native Court is the most appropriate body to handle native land disputes,” Masing told the DayakDaily today.

The Federal Court today ruled that the Syariah Court has jurisdiction to hear four apostasy cases and struck out the appeal to have the cases heard in the civil court.

The four persons filing the appeal included a Malay Muslim who has converted to Christianity and three other Muslim converts who wished to return to Christianity after their spouses passes away or following divorce.

The Federal Court unanimously agreed that the cases had no merit and that even though there was no provision in the Sarawak Syariah Court Ordinance, there were still some sections of the law in the Majlis Islam Sarawak Ordinance that could be deployed by the Syariah Court to hear the apostasy cases.

Taking the cue from the judgment passed by the Federal Court, Masing said all land dispute cases should be heard in the Native Court instead of the Federal Court.

To him, the Federal Court was not a suitable court to handle NCR land cases and disputes.

“Based on the same argument, federal judges are also not qualified to preside over NCR land disputes or matters as they are not well versed in Dayak customs and laws.

“If the Native Court is not equipped with qualified judges, then employ qualified judges so that an appropriate court of law handles appropriate cases,” said Masing who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister. — DayakDaily