Need to upgrade native courts discussed in MA63 steering committee meeting: Abang Jo

16 Jun 2019 / 10:08 H.

KUCHING: The need to upgrade the Sarawak Native Court to be on par with the civil court and Syariah court was among the issues that has been brought to the Steering Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (pix) said this would allow problems based on native customs and traditions including cases relating to Native Customary Rights (NCR) land to be solved in a more structured way.

“The issue has been discussed based on our understanding of the MA63 because we have the Borneo High Court in which there must be a judge from Sarawak or Sabah to hear appeals,” he said when launching the 2019 state-level Gawai celebrations themed “Indi Awang Indi Asung” which means “One Heart One Mind” in the Bidayuh language.

Abang Johari said he had also requested his deputy, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah to head the committee to look into upgrading the native court to be equivalent to the civil court and Syariah court.

He was confident that the committee would be able to improve the structure of the native court based on the local customs and tradition with the guidance of law experts to solve to certain extent problems faced by the Dayak community.

Sometimes, the Chief Minister said, he felt the civil court might not be that competent to adjudicate problems such as those related to NCR land issues.

“Only Sarawakians understand ourselves and that understanding is a platform for Sarawakians to determine their own destiny,” he said.

He also called on the Dayak community to engage in modern agriculture to raise their income and boost the rural economy.

Earlier, Main Organising Committee chairman Datuk Seri Michael Manyin, who is also Education, Science and Technological Research Minister, thanked the state and federal governments for bringing basic infrastructure that benefited the predominantly rural-based Dayak community.

With centuries of tradition behind it, Gawai Dayak is celebrated on June 1 and 2 every year by the Dayaks, a collective name for the three indigenous Sarawak communities, namely the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu.

In the past, “Gawai” meant a religious ceremony or festivity held to show thanksgiving for a bountiful rice harvest but nowadays, it is a social event, a time for merry-making and bonding. — Bernama

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