NCR land: Baru questions difficulty in amending Land Code

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

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KUCHING, Nov 10: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said the native communities have been waiting for an amendment to the Land Code which to him, is not a complicated task.

The state PKR chairman said all the state has to do is to make an amendment on Section 2 of the Land Code.

“The native communities have been awaiting for an amendment to the law, and the committee under the DCM has not given any indication as to when this could be done.

“The reason I tabled another Private Bill yesterday (Thursday) was to simply show that the amendment need not be complicated, and does not require many long sessions of discussions and consultations.

“In my view, the Land Code already recognises the concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’; in its definition Section 2 under the definition of ‘Native Customary Land’ as indicated in my proposed Bill, but the amendment is needed to make this absolutely clear in view of the recent Federal Court decision in TR Sandah,” he said.

He said he had made two attempts before this sitting to effect the amendment of the Land Code, firstly by way of a motion in November 2013 and then by a Private Member’s Bill in May 2014, before the Federal Court’s decision in the TR Sandah case.

“Both were unsuccessful. Since the decision in TR Sandah, my law firm has lost seven cases in the Court of Appeal in July this year and because of that, we have had to withdraw a few more cases, some subject to costs imposed on our clients.

“The reason I tabled the Private Bill in 2014 was to make the law certain, so that the status of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ would be unequivocally recognised before the Federal Court made its decision. As it was, my Private Bill was voted down, the Federal Court decided against the natives, and the issue has become blurred.

He said to protect the rights of the native community, the concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ must be recognised first.

“The idea of territorial domain must first be given the force of law.

“It is not necessary to compile the definitions of ‘pemakai menoa’ or ‘pulau galau’ according to every native group. It is not possible to specify the extent, as it is subject to proof, that is, evidence of occupation of the land by virtue of the ‘adat’ of the respective native community concerned,” he said.

The Private Bill to amend Section 2 of the Land Code which Baru tabled yesterday was thrown out. — DayakDaily