Sarawak Dayak Association (Pedas) describes the decision of the Federal Court in relation to the ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) and ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) case, as one that will scrap off the rights of Dayaks in the state to land which they have inherited for generations.
Its president Major (r) Captain Collin Imran admitted that the defeat of Tuai Rumah Sandah Tabau and seven others in claiming ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’ in the Federal Court on Dec 20 as a big slap for all the Dayak community in Sarawak.
“Their defeat means that the Federal Court does not recognise Dayak customary rights on land, namely the ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’, thus wiping off Dayaks’ right as owners of land they have inherited for generations.
“If this defeat serves as a measure in connection to laws that determine similar claims in the future, it is like the Dayak community, after becoming Malaysians for 54 years, have lost something that is indeed highly valuable.”
He said further that this would make claims on native customary rights (NCR) lands, which all this while had been recognised by other related departments, more difficult.
Collin said this could be seen from the many provisional leases (PL) given by the government to private companies, where most of the PLs included native lands such as ‘pemakai menoa’, ‘pulau galau’ and ‘termuda’, which created tension between developers and villagers, and in some cases, led to deaths.
Collin thus said the decision of the Federal Court that the Native Customs Council which interpreted ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ as explained in the Native Customs Council 1993, as not relevant in Sarawak’s law, was something very saddening for the Dayak community.
He added that Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar James Masing’s statement on the decision by the Federal Court in not recognising the ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’, as the Native Customary Council – the definitive authority on the status of the land – had not come up with a clear definition on the status of these lands, was unacceptable.
“If the state government recognises the customary land, why is there no effort made to give clear recognition to the category of these lands in terms of law, instead of merely making empty promises to fish for votes during elections.
“We in Pedas feel that the Barisan Nasional government has betrayed us. During the last election, we were told that the Dayak community would lose their NCR lands if they did not vote for BN, and that only BN could help us defend our NCR land,” said Collin.
He said Pedas and other non-governmental organisations and Dayaks in the state would monitor and evaluate how far BN would go to ‘defend’ NCR lands.
Collin said that Pedas, on behalf of the majority of the Dayak community, was calling on the state government to return the peoples’ right over their native land, as well as amend the present Land Code by including laws to clearly recognise NCR including ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’.
Source : @ The Borneo Post Online