By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, May 6: The State Legislative Assembly (DUN) today heard that the Sarawak government should amend Section 6 or carry out survey of native customary rights (NCR) land under Section 18 with immediate effect.
In making the call, Ali Biju (PKR-Krian) questioned the state government’s next course of action in order to mitigate the natives’ concerns over the legal implications of Section 6 as exposed by the Court of Appeal judgment.
The concerns, he said, was a result of the judgment made on March 18, 2018, in the Court of Appeal over the case of ‘Zaharah Mustapha Raja Sewa and Another vs Sagau Batu Bala and 5 Others, and Another Appeal’.
Quoting the judgement of the case, he said there were several legitimate points of concerns that had created anxieties among the natives.
“The court interprets that individual ownership of land is invalid once the land is converted into Section 6. Both sides lost the case,” said Ali, quoting Para 9 of the judgment of the case.
Quoting Para 11 and Para 13, he concluded that the natives hold the reserve land as licensees only.
He then quotes Para 14 and 20, which he said the implication of the two paragraphs was that the gazetted land under Section 6 could also be withdrawn at any time after being converted into native communal reserve land, and the persons holding the land were merely licensees.
“There is no guarantee that those lands surveyed under Section 6 will be given individual titles and the landowners are at the mercy of the State,” said Ali when debating the TYT’s speech today.
Quoting Para 21, which stated that ‘the claims should have been heard in the first instance by the native court’, Ali said the statement actually meant that any disputes within the communal reserve land must be dealt with by the Native Courts.
“The issue will be, what is the capacity of our Native Courts System to adjudicate all those land matters among the natives, bearing in mind there are a lot of native court cases pending in the Native Courts,” he said.
He also pointed out the standard of the Native Courts must be raised to be on par with the Syariah Courts and civil courts, where it is high time to amend the Native Courts Ordinance to allow that to happen.
“Hence, after reading through all these quotes, it can be concluded that once the area is gazetted under section 6, then any individual Native Customary Rights Land will be extinguished and if anyone having any Native Customary Rights Land within the gazetted area must challenge the gazette or otherwise as, in the above case, they are deemed to accept the extinguishment of their individual Native Customary Right land,” said Ali. — DayakDaily