State and federal govts urged to reform, empower Sarawak Native Courts

Roland Engan

KUCHING, Aug 5: Sarawak PKR welcomes any move by both the Sarawak and federal governments to reform and empower the Sarawak Native Courts.

In a statement today, Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Roland Engan said the reform and empowerment of the Sarawak Native Courts should be pursued by introducing comprehensive and holistic approaches as follows:

a) The amendment to Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution so as to incorporate additional provision that the High Court has no jurisdiction in respect of matters within jurisdiction of the Syariah Court and the Native Courts respectively. Presently, Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution recognises the Syariah Court only, not Native Courts in Sarawak or Native Courts in Sabah.

The amendment should elevate the status of Native Courts to be equal with Syariah and Civil/Criminal Courts.

b) The amendment to List 11A – Supplement to State List for States of Sabah and Sarawak on Native Courts to include the establishment of Native Court Judges or Presiding Officers Commission having powers to appoint, train and promote judges/presiding officers of Native Courts.

c) Sarawak Native Courts Ordinance to be amended accordingly to incorporate the relevant practical procedures to dispose cases and to execute verdicts as ordered by Native Courts.

d) Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak to be empowered financially to codify all recognised customs of all Sarawak natives according to their distinct and unique ethnic groups.

e) The Registry of Sarawak Native Courts to be separated from the present District Office in respective district throughout Sarawak. The Native Court should be seen to be an independent judicial body in the eyes of the Native public in Sarawak.

f) The council of elders must mandatorily be established and empowered in every native village to dispose of cases at their respective village and level of jurisdiction. They should assist their respective headman or community chief having inherent powers of village judges to dispose cases. They should be paid remuneration accordingly.

“It is a matter of urgency to have the Sarawak Native Courts to be reformed and empowered to ensure a better administration of justice that will be able to produce peaceful and prosperous native communities in Sarawak,” said Roland. — DayakDaily