Study to restructure, elevate Native Courts status expected to be completed in Oct

Uggah (centre) witnessing the exchange of documents between Ose (right) and Michael (left).

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 12: A study on the restructuring and elevation of the Native Courts of Sarawak into an independent and autonomours judicial institution like the respective Syariah and Civil Courts, which started on Jan 6, is expected to be completed in October and will be submitted to the state government for implementation.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas emphasised that the study was primarily aimed at enhancing the relevance and status of the Native Courts in the administration of justice pertaining to native laws and ‘adat’ of the native population in Sarawak.

“In August 2018, Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) agreed that a thorough study be undertaken with the view to elevate it to be an independent and autonomous judicial institution and to be on par with the Syariah and the Civil Courts,” he said.

Uggah pointed out that a proper review was both timely and necessary following the amendments to the State Land Code regarding ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’.

This way, he added, the Native Courts will be equipped with both the legal and institutional capabilities to meet the current needs and future challenges of the native communities in Sarawak, currently forming 75 per cent of Sarawak’s total population.

Today, Uggah witnessed the state government enter into a consultancy services agreement appointing E-Factor Sdn Bhd to carry out the study, marking a significant milestone for the new beginning for the Native Courts.

The agreement was signed by Chief Registrar of the Native Courts Sarawak on behalf of the state government Datu Michael Dawi Alli and E-Factor chairman Datu Ose Murang.

“The findings and recommendations from the study, we hope, in time will provide the basis and justifications for restructuring the current organisational set up, including the legal and institutional capability, and address other issues which affect the transformation of the Native Courts of Sarawak.

“Therefore, part of the study will also look at the causal factors that impact positively and/or negatively on the ways of life of the natives, in terms of their ‘adat’, customs and usage,” Uggah explained.

While there is a need to create a strong identity for the Native Courts to be recognised and to be on par with the Syariah and Civil Courts, he added that the study will also need to strike a balance between the duality of the native world and their world views within the context of introduced public policies.

“The study elements will be divided into three Work Streams, namely Legal, Institutional and Adat, Customs and Usage.

“In addition, there will also be two key enablers addressed for the optimum function of the Native Courts, namely Infrastructure and Assets of the Native Courts; and Information, Communications and Technology (ICT),” he said.

Uggah expressed confidence towards the study team comprising experienced lawyers and renowned scholars and looked forward to the masterplan which is expected to be submitted in October, in time for the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of the Native Courts.

“To the community as well as ‘ketua kaum’ who are present in this ceremony, we hope you will use this opportunity to contribute constructive ideas based on our respective experiences to the consultancy firm for the benefit of the new court later,” he urged. — DayakDaily