A lawyer has called for a Dayak to be appointed as the Sarawak attorney-general (AG). Abun Sui Anyit made the call in a paper presented at a gathering of Dayak intellectuals in the state capital at the weekend.
Abun cited two reasons for his suggestion.
Firstly, he said, only a Dayak would be able to understand the culture of the natives, their Adat – customary law – customs and traditions.
Secondly, a Dayak as the AG would be able to address the issues that have arisen on two NCR land categories in particular, that is “pemakai menoa” (territorial domain) and “pulau galau” (communal forest).
His paper was posted in sematongexpress, a blog for discourse on native issues.
Abun does not see any reason why a Dayak cannot be appointed as the AG as they are not only the Orang Asal but make up the majority in Sarawak.
He was pushing the theme that the shortcomings in the Sarawak Land Code could be attributed to “failings” on the part of those who have held the AG’s post so far.
These shortcomings, he believes, could be addressed by appointing a Dayak as AG.
The Dayak gathering was a response to the Federal Court ruling on Dec 20 that Adat does not have force of law on “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau”.
In an overview of the Land Code, Abun stressed that NCR (Native Customary Rights) was “isolated”, something unthinkable if the AG was Dayak.
He said there were no improvements to the safeguards for NCR in the Land Code, and “the native’s rights in the Land Code were being eroded over time”.
“The result was the Dec 20 ruling by the Federal Court,” Abun said.
The Federal Court ruled, in explaining “no force of law”, that “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” were incidental to “temuda” (cultivated land), the first NCR land category.
The AG would immediately work on the implications of the Dec 20 ruling if he or she were a Dayak, said the lawyer.
Abun also cautions the Sarawak Land Code virtually considers the Dayak as “squatters” on state land all over Sarawak.
He feels this stigma in the Land Code should be removed as it was contrary to Adat and Dayak culture, customs and traditions.
Abun’s paper goes into details from years past on the shortcomings in the Land Code. However, in doing so, he does not touch on the consensus at the gathering for a NCR Land Code, separate from the Sarawak Land Code.
He referred to the “one-sided” nature of the Land Code, which emerged through various amendments over the years, which in itself was a violation of the rule of law.
The shifting of the “burden of proof” on land ownership implied the Orang Asal status of the Dayak was not a consideration.
According to Abun, in 1997, occupation of land without permit was made illegal “notwithstanding any custom to the contrary”, and this was the unkindest cut of all.
Source : @ FMT Online