Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s plan to meet Dayak leaders to discuss the ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) issue is timely and should include those knowledgeable in these ‘adat’ (customs).
In welcoming the chief minister’s initiative, state PKR chairman Baru Bian, however, said officers from the State Attorney-General’s (SAG) office should not be invited to the meeting that is to be held sometime after the New Year holidays.
“Please do not include the State Attorney-General officers in this dialogue as it was their arguments in court that led to this conclusion,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
On Christmas Day, the Chief Minister’s Office issued a statement stating that Adenan wanted to meet Dayak leaders following the Federal Court’s ruling on Dec 20 that ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ had no force of law in Sarawak.
The date for the meeting was not mentioned.
In a majority three-to-one decision, the apex court allowed the appeal by the state government and set aside the orders of the Court of Appeal and High Court that recognised NCR over ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’.
The respondents in the case were Tuai Rumah Sandah Tabau of Rumah Sandah in Ulu Machan, Kanowit, and eight other NCR landowners. They claimed that they had customary rights over 2,712 hectares of ‘pemakai menoa’.
Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman and a prominent native customary rights (NCR) lawyer, recalled that state PKR leaders had met Adenan twice on this issue—once before and once after he became the chief minister.
“We gave him all the legal authorities. The response has always been to wait for Tuai Rumah Sandah’s Federal Court case,” said Baru. “Now that the decision is out, it would probably be timely to do what needs to be done.”
Baru said besides officers from Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS), he proposed that people like the ex-officio of MAIS Datuk Edmund Langgu Saga, former Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Linton Albert, Prof Dimbab Ngidang and Prof Ramy Bulan be invited to the meeting.
If the Dayak leaders wanted briefings or updating from the state PKR’s legal team that handled this issue since Tuai Rumah Nor Nyawai’s case, the team would be very happy to assist, assured Baru.
He said the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) also had an interest in the case: they submitted a report to Parliament, and some of the recommendations were for the state government to recognise these ‘adat’ and amend the Land Code of Sarawak.
“I then tabled a motion for the state government to adopt and implement the recommendations of the Commission, but my motion was thrown out,” said Baru.
On Dec 23, Baru asserted that the Federal Court’s ruling had far-reaching consequences on all communities, including the Malays — with the concept of ‘cari makan’.
“Many people may not have realised the impact of the ruling. It will affect all communities in Sarawak because ‘menoa’ is not confined to the Ibans of Sarawak. The whole concept is that if we go along with the decision of the court, customs of the other communities similar to ‘menoa’ may not be legislated.”
Baru, who is one of the lawyers who represented Sandah and eight other NCR landowners of Ulu Machan, Kanowit, in the NCR case, would be filing for a review of the Federal Court’s decision.
Meanwhile, also on Dec 23, former MAIS deputy president Nicholas Bawin claimed that the SAG had been the stumbling block to get the Majlis Adat Ordinance 1977 amended.
“The state AG has been the one appealing the natives’ victories in court. It is the government that has been the problem,” Bawin was quoted as saying.
Nicholas, who is now state PKR secretary, said MAIS had tried to amend the Adat Iban but failed to surmount the hurdles facing it.
Source : @ The Borneo Post Online