Sikie: Premier’s Department targets to table new Native Court Bill during next DUN sitting

Sikie delivering his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting today (Nov 29, 2022). Screenshot taken from a Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) Facebook livestream

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Nov 29: The Premier’s Department intends to table a Bill in the next State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting to elevate the current Native Courts to the status of a full-fledged judicial institution that is independent and autonomous, according to Datuk John Sikie Tayai.

The Minister in the Premier’s Department stated this during a press conference following his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting here today.

“The ultimate objective is to transform the current Native Courts into an independent judicial system like the Syariah and Civil Courts and towards this end, the government has commissioned a study in 2020 to produce a Master Plan for the transformation.

“The study which had been conducted by a local team of consultants was completed in February this year after a delay of 14 months largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors beyond our control.

“The study Final Report, containing the Master Plan for the Transformation of the Native Courts Sarawak has been approved by the Study Steering Committee chaired by Yang Berhormat Deputy Premier of Sarawak and Member for Bukit Saban,” Sikie said during his winding-up speech.

He went on to say that the approval of the Study Final Report in September this year would now pave the way for follow-up actions by the Chief Registrar Native Courts Sarawak, mainly to submit the Master Plan to the State government for approval, noting that the process of compiling papers for submission to the Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri has entered the final stage.

“Based on the recommendations in the Master Plan, the current Native Courts will be restructured and elevated from being just a Unit under the Premier’s Department to be a full-fledged judicial institution which is independent and autonomous.

“The new court will not be fully part of the State Administration. The other changes would involve the hierarchy and organisational structure of the current native court system,” he said.

He explained that in order for the changes to take effect, the Master Plan recommends that the government repeal the current Native Courts Ordinance 1992 and enact a new Native Courts Bill.

“At this juncture, our target is to table the New Native Court Bill during the next sitting of this august House,” he added.

Furthermore, Sikie stated that the government has upgraded or renovated 21 courtrooms in various districts and sub-districts throughout the State, and that the upgrading programme began in 2015, with over RM3.2 million spent on the upgrades.

“For this year 2022, three more courtrooms have been approved under the upgrading programme, namely at Pejabat Daerah Lingga, Pejabat Daerah Daro, and Pejabat Daerah Kecil Nanga Medamit.

“The projects which are being implemented through the State Development Office would be completed within the year,” he mentioned. — DayakDaily