Saturday, November 28

Native laws need to be reviewed

KUCHING - The Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Richard Melanjun suggested that the current set of native laws should be reviewed in order to keep up with the time and modernisation.

He said that the native courts of Sabah and Sarawak are still active, but the laws need to be relevant in modern society.

“The native laws are good for the rural folks so that they do not have to go to town to acquire justice,” he said at the launch of a ‘Business Law’ textbook and stressed that the native laws must be maintained to preserve native cultural heritage in Sabah and Sarawak.

Native laws have been around for quite awhile, but they have not been taken care of, he lamented.

“We need to refurbish the native laws, keep the good ones and put aside others. If they are not reviewed or updated, people may not use them anymore one day,” he said.

The native courts in Sarawak were divided into Headman’s Court, the Chief’s Court, the Chief’s Superior Court and the Native District Court.

(a) A Headman’s Court may be constituted by a Tuai Rumah sitting with two assessors. It may impose fines not exceeding RM300 (three hundred ringgit).

(b) A Chief’s Court may be constituted by a Penghulu sitting with two Tuai Rumahs to assist him. It has power to impose imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months and a fine not exceeding (RM2,000) two thousand ringgit.

(c) A Chief’s Superior Court may be constituted by a Temenggong or a Pemanca, or both Temenggong and Pemanca sitting in either case with two assessors. It has power to impose imprisonment not exceeding one (1) year and a fine not exceeding RM3,000 (three thousand ringgit).

(d) A District Native Court shall consist of a magistrate and two assessors. It has power to impose imprisonment not exceeding two (2) years and a fine not exceeding RM5,000 (five thousand ringgit).

Jetty’s comment: We agree that the Native laws need to be updated and the Native courts to be given proper respect. I have bitter experiences with a Chief’s Court in Simunjan way back in 1996/1997. A Penghulu, who presided the case and assisted by two Tuai Rumahs, did not know his law. He told me “alah nuan” (you lost the case). No reasons were given why I lost the case. “Nuan enda puas ati, nuan tau ngapil” (If you are not satisfied, you can appeal).

Later I found out three things why I lost the case regarding our land, which was claimed by someone else. One, he was a PBB man as he was appointed by PBB to be a Penghulu and as a PBB man he would rule against those who were in the Opposition; two, he was given some money by my opponent and three, he was not conversant with native laws.

I lodged a complaint with the District Officer, Simunjan and his Penghuluship was terminated. Luckily he was not charged in court for corruption. My case was then heard by the Chief’s Superior Court. Of course I won, because the land is really ours.

In another case in the Chief’s Court, a friend of mine lost the case simply because the Penghulu did not dare to make a decision, so the case was neither win nor loss (sama-sama menang tauka sama sama kalah). The case happened in 1998. My friend appealed to the higher court that is the Chief’s Superior Court. He paid the deposit. Until today, more than 10 years nothing is heard of the appeal.

I have heard there are literary several hundreds of cases pending appeal in Simunjan alone. I am sure there are also unsolved cases in other districts.

Is this justice? How can we have respect for the Native Courts when those presiding such cases do not understand the native laws? No wonder the Chief Justice wants review to be carried out in the Native Courts and the native system of laws. – The Broken Shield



Anonymous said...

I have heard about the existence of kangaroo court but I don't know weather you people know about this.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Chicken or the egg?

Guardians of the Law or the Law itself?

We should have Lingam as the Lord President of Native Courts! He can tell a chicken from a duck with the duck test!

We need land laws reforms, we need other laws reformed!

Seriously, we need the whole national constitution reformed!

-Bapa Ayam-

Apai Semalau said...

We need NATIVE LAWs but NOT native law courts! The dayaks are now mature enough to embrace the existing legal system. Native law courts have been the subject of abuse in the last many decades. Simply they are corrupted by personal interests and native justice or "adat" is no longer respected by the tribal courts themselves! Point to take note is, BN appointed temenggong, pemanca, penghulus to the tuai rumahs are illiterates with little or no knowledge of the local adats and are not interested in the welfare of their communities even though the taxpayers pay for their salary. They serve their political masters and are forever more interested on the hunt for what the chanton called "kang tow'. Thats why tons of cases have been gathering dusts for years to be heard in the DO's office. So, why should we have native courts consisting of illiterates who can't read or write to act as judges/arbitrators? Are we dayaks foolish, stupid or what?

Anonymous said...

thousand of land owner received inviction letter to move out. 700 acres of native land in balai ringin given to Tabung Haji for the purpose of palm oil plantations....

when approach by land owners...the young elected representative from party PRS said "pasal tanah tusah amai aku" ........

slowly but surely Dayak will lost their native land....

Anonymous said...

Having a basic knowledge of Native Law is not a must in appointing any native chief, including appointing a wali kota, as long as you can win the hearts of ministers ..meri sida ikan keli enggau kasam babi. At the same time you must vote for BN.

tsunami unleashed said...

Yes Mr. Honourable Judge. You are right. You made good & honourable judgement. You has used your wisdom of a wiseman rightly. The native's law need to updated with changing time. Sarawak native's law is so in favour of the riches and "have(s)".

Mr. Honourable Judge, are our lawyers/law makers not learned? Can't even distinguished unrelevant and relevant? Outdated and up-to-date? Make our judgement on this issue, Mr. honourable Judge.