Dayak intellectuals must hold a dialogue on ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) and ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) to resolve issues surrounding these native customary rights (NCR) land terms.
In making the suggestion, Samalaju assemblyman Majang Renggi said he concurred with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing’s recent statement that such a dialogue was needed after the Federal Court ruled on Dec 19 not to recognise ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’,
“I support the call by him (Masing) that non-governmental organisations and other Dayak groups hold a forum and agree on the definition of ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’ before making recommendations to the state attorney general,” said Majang yesterday.
“It should then be tabled in DUN (state legislative assembly). This way, ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’ will have force of law in Sarawak.
“The present definition of ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’ is not recognised since it is vague, although recognised by the common law as part of the native customary rights land.”
He said efforts must be made to distinctly define ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menoa’ based on agreed terms, and there ought to be proper guidelines to determine the size based on the community’s customs and practices.
“It has to be reasonable and practical so as to be accepted by other communities. At present, the definition is blurry and subject to doubtful claims. That’s the reason it’s not supported by non-Dayak policy makers in DUN.”
Majang, who is also PRS vice-president, said he, too, agreed with Masing, who is PRS president, that Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) should play a leading role and give its recommendations to the state government.
Masing had commented that the lack of clear definitions had led to the Federal Court’s decision.
This was because MAIS, being the definitive authority on the status of land, had not come up with clear definitions on the status of these lands.
Majang said this issue was central to the livelihood of the Dayaks because the concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ had been part of their customs, cultures and traditions for generations.
“To be denied those rights by the court of law is definitely a big blow and a humiliation to our community.”
Majang hoped the state government could resolve this issue immediately as it had been bothering the Dayaks for a long time.
On Dec 19, the Federal Court ruled that both ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ had no force of law in Sarawak.
In a 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 both ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’
The respondents in the case were Tuai Rumah Sandah Tabau of Rumah Sandah in Ulu Machan, Kanowit, and eight NCR land owners.
They claimed they had customary rights over 2,712 ha of ‘pemakai menoa’in the area.
Source : @ The Borneo Post Online