‘Pemakai Menoa’, ‘Pulau Galau’ to have long-awaited force of law, says Asfia

Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar

KUCHING, July 9: Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar said the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which will be tabled for first reading tomorrow, will give ‘Pemakai Menoa’ and ‘Pulau Galau’ (PMPG) the force of law.

‘Pemakai Menoa’ refers to territorial domain, while ‘Pulau Galau’ refers to communal forest reserves.

Asfia said the recognition, however, would be made under the new term ‘native territorial domain’, which includes the territorial domain of all native groups, instead of just PMPG — a term used solely by the Ibans.

“The Bill that is going to be tabled is the recognition of PMPG, under the new term ‘native territorial domain’. By using this term of ‘native territorial domain’, it will not confine only to one native group.

“When you say PMPG, it is confined to Iban customary rights, not Dayak, (but) Iban. This ‘native territorial domain’ will open the door to other natives, plus usufructuary rights. This will also give rights to other natives, apart from the Ibans,” Asfia told a press conference after the opening of the Third Session of the 18th State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here today.

He said he was surprised that Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, who is also federal Works Minister, had commented yesterday that the proposed amendment was far from the court’s decision.

“This amendment goes beyond that. It does not just give the natives the rights to hunt, forage for food, but also proprietor rights over the land.”

Asfia added that the amendment was “better than the decision of the Federal Court” because the Federal Court did not recognise PMPG and claimed that PMPG had no force of law, causing Sarawak natives to lose their land.

On whether the Bill might be made retrospective so that the natives who won their cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal but lost them at the Federal Court level may take back their lost land, Asfia replied that the Bill to be tabled had no retrospective effect.

“From what I understand, there is no retrospective effect, unless they made an amendment to the phrases of the Bill during the committee stage,” said Asfia. — DayakDaily