Hornbill Unleashed

October 10, 2013

Appeals Court overturns High Court decision, returns NCR land to Ibans

Ng Ai Fern

Some 22 Iban landowners emerged victorious after the Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s decision and affirmed their native customary rights over 3,000 acres of land in Niah.

Appeal judges Datuk Abdul Wahad Patail, Datuk Wira Mohtarudin Baki and Datuk Mah Weng Kwai on Tuesday ruled in favour of the plaintiffs from Rumah Meringai, Sungei Lembong Suai in Miri, Sarawak, with costs and damages.

The landowners had filed two cases; the first against Fung Tai Sdn Bhd, Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA), Miri Superintendent of Lands & Surveys and the Sarawak state government over the matter.

The Ibans claimed the Quarry Licence was issued to Fung Tai Sdn Bhd and/or LCDA without their consent.

And the second, Butrasemari Sdn Bhd, Miri Superintendent of Lands and Surveys and the Sarawak government were named respondents over two Provisional Leases issued to Butrasemari by the Miri Superintendent.

The appellate court judges further ruled that the issuance of the Quarry Licence and two Provisional Leases were “unlawful, improper, unconstitutional and therefore null and void”.

In July 2011, High Court judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli struck off two cases brought by the 22 Iban landowners, on grounds that the area claimed were not cleared or farmed before 1958, thus making no basis for the NCR claim.

Dissatisfied with that decision, the Plaintiffs appealed.

In allowing their appeal, the Appeal Court judges unanimously agreed that the Ibans, on the balance of probabilities, proved their claims of pemakai menua (communal land) and/or pulau galau (communal forest reserve) over their NCR land comprising about 3,475 hectares.

The landowners’ lawyer Baru Bian said this was the fifth judgement from the Court of Appeal confirming in their ruling that pemakai menoa and pulau galau were native customary land under the Iban adat or customs in Sarawak.

“It is interesting to note that for the first time in NCR cases emanating from Sarawak, the court declared that the issuance of the Quarry Licence and the Provisional Leases without first extinguishing NCR, was a breach of the government’s fiduciary duty to the plaintiffs or appellants,” Baru said in a press statement.




    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — October 10, 2013 @ 1:26 PM | Reply

    • At the near end of his career the Pehin is still hungry and thirsty for more riches for himself, not the country or state. This is the mark of a dictator. As for Baru Bian I think he is not so much for riches for for justice; hence his party- Kedadilan.

      Comment by i knowit all — October 10, 2013 @ 1:56 PM | Reply

    • Having said that….. BB is taking these case because its business for him!

      Comment by Rod — October 10, 2013 @ 4:51 PM | Reply

      • One question Rod…What does a lawyer do for a living? Its his business to sue and defend people in court if asked to for a fee. He is doing what other lawyers avoid,dare not do and unwilling to pursue. Other lawyers dare not take on the gov’t on land disputes for some reasons but he is there in the forefront defending and suing without prejudice, no matter friends or fore, only for justice for these oppressed folks. Your comments this time is a bit unfair to someone who has made a difference in these kampong folks lives.

        Comment by brian — October 11, 2013 @ 9:22 AM | Reply

  2. Now masing and the rest of the dayak leaders should look into ways how to help the dayaks to reclaim land which were wrongly given and sometime forcibly taken from them without going to court. This is a huge victory for all dayaks. Finally, we Dayaks are regaining some of our pride back!

    Our claims to our communal lands and communal forest reserve are indeed very legitimate and is now recognized by the court and must be accepted by all especially those in the timber and oil palm industries.These are the people who are in conflict with us Dayaks over lands and forest which we dayaks have taken care of for generations. It is time for them to think of ways to give back those lands and forest to the Dayaks amicably without resorting to beatings, threats, thuggery as means to hold on to those lands and forest as had happened in the past.

    Comment by brian — October 10, 2013 @ 9:26 AM | Reply

    • In your dream…these Dayak leaders will help to get back the lost lands…..to take away lands from the dayak……they will do it quick.

      Comment by Rod — October 10, 2013 @ 4:55 PM | Reply

  3. Baru Bian is going against the current with is numerous success in defending Native Customary Rights. I think he (or his children) is destined for greater things. The Pehins family is crumbling. No amount of wealth is enough for Pehin. It is only right and legitimate that the natives get back the few acres belonging to them and ancestors.

    Comment by i knowit all — October 10, 2013 @ 9:13 AM | Reply

  4. That’s only a tip of the iceberg. It shows that land grabbing is real and sanctioned by the authorities. What a Bolehland! It is fortunate enough that we still have those judges with high intergrity to hear the case or else all the NCR lands would one after another find their way into the hands of land Mafia.

    Comment by Justice Lover — October 10, 2013 @ 8:52 AM | Reply

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