KUCHING, Jan 4 — Tan Sri Adenan Satem can appease Dayak concern over their native customary rights (NCR) by bringing back Section 5(2)(f) of the Sarawak Land Code that was removed 17 years ago, a local party said today.
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) president Cobbold John Lusoi suggested for the Sarawak chief minister to table a new Bill in the state legislative assembly to reinstate the clause deleted in 2000 when the Land Code was amended.
“If Adenan is serious about finding a solution, he should table a Bill to reinstate the section in the coming session of the state assembly,” he told Malay Mail Online.
He was asked to respond to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embah’s statement on his meeting yesterday with the chief minister over “pemakai menoa” (territorial domain) and “pulau galau” (communal forest reserve) matters in an effort to find an “amicable and reasonable solutions acceptable by all parties”.
According to Lusoi, Section 5(2)(f) stated that NCR land could be created by “any other lawful method”.
“With the re-instatement, I believe our customary rights laws or adat will have the force of law on pemakai menoa and pulau galau as NCR lands,” he said.
He believes the Federal Court would have ruled differently if the clause were still in place.
However, Lusoi also expressed his party’s appreciation to Adenan for his willingness to listen and consult Dayaks whom he said were disappointed with the apex court’s decision.
“We also applaud the initiatives taken by Uggah to meet Adenan as matters on territorial domain and communal forest reserves concern not just the Dayak, but also affect the Malay and Melanau communities,” he said.
In a benchmark decision on December 20 last year, the Federal Court ruled there was no law in Sarawak that gave the force of law to customary rights claims by the Dayak community over virgin forests as their territorial domain and communal reserves and part of their customary rights lands.
The apex court, in a 3-1 majority decision, then allowed an appeal by the state Forest Department and the state government against the decision of the High Court, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal, in a case filed by headman Sandah anak Tabau and other seven other landowners over an area in Ulu Machan, Kanowit.