Give us back our NCR lands, Sarawak natives tell state

Source: Malay Mail

SCRIPTS chairman Michael Jok (right) and legal adviser Henry Joseph (left) after handing over the Native Customary Rights Land Declaration to the deputy chief minister’s office in Kuching June 22, 2018. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

SCRIPTS chairman Michael Jok (right) and legal adviser Henry Joseph (left) after handing over the Native Customary Rights Land Declaration to the deputy chief minister’s office in Kuching June 22, 2018. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, June 22 — A group of indigenous Sarawakians today handed their demand to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah’s office, asking the state government to revoke provisional leases (PL) issued to plantation and logging companies involving their native customary rights (NCR) lands.

Sarawak Society for the Protection of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (SCRIPTS) chairman Michael Jok said all of the leases were issued to companies linked to current Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud when he was chief minister for 33 years.

“For example, virtually the whole of Baram interior has been issued with PLs when Taib was the chief minister,” Jok told reporters after handing the Native Customary Rights Land Declaration to Uggah’s office.

“Based on the submissions from 54 communities in Baram interior which we have received thus far, about 2.8 million hectares of their NCR lands have been leased out by the state government to logging and oil palm companies,” Jok said. Read more

Let there be no coercion in religion — Joe Samad

Source: The Malaysian Insight

BY JOE SAMAD

THE ugly incident at the Sarawak Federal Court hearing on the apostasy case where several Muslims heckled Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching and shouted “Allahuakbar” was a wake-up call for Sarawakians.

There could have been ugly scenes if not for peaceful Muslims brothers and police who protected the Archbishop from harm.

The Federal Court ruled on February 27 that the Sarawak Shari’ah Court has jurisdiction over the bid by four Sarawakians to leave Islam and to be officially recognised as Christians. The four had named the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department, MAIS, the National Registration Department (NRD) and the state government as respondents.

The behaviour of the group who tried to intimidate the Archbishop shows an intolerant Islam has reared its ugly head in East Malaysia. Some Sarawakians I met said it was just a matter of time. Read more

Federal Court should have referred to Malaysia Agreement on apostasy case, say Sarawak churches

Source: The Malaysian Insight

THE Federal Court should have referred to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the constitution before pushing the conversion cases to the shariah court, the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) said.

ACS chairman Reverend Justin Wan said the Federal Court should not have interfered because the state is independent as far as MA63 is concern.

“Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but Sabah and Sarawak are free to exercise our religious beliefs. It is one of the points of the 18-point agreement.  

“So as far as Sarawak is concerned this issue should not be decided by the Federal Court.

“All this while the civil court had said they (shariah court) have no jurisdiction on apostasy cases, and now the Federal Court says they have.

“We leave today’s decision to the court, but we still feel that it is not a wise decision. It’s not right in the context of Sarawak,” he told The Malaysian Insight. Read more

Federal Court defers to Shariah courts in Sarawak apostasy cases

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya – File pix

KUCHING, Feb 27 — The Federal Court ruled today that the Sarawak Shariah Court has jurisdiction over the bid by four Sarawakians — a Malay-Muslim and three Muslim converts — to embrace Christianity.

Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said the decision was unanimous.

“We have studied written submissions and arguments by from both parties and we found  that there is no merit in the appeals,” he said.

He added that while there is no specific provision in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordinance 2001 concerning conversions into and out of Islam, there were provisions under the Sarawak Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) concerning such matters.

He said these existed under Sections 68, 69 and 70 of the MAIS Ordinance.

On the applicants’ legal question asking if the Shariah courts have jurisdiction over apostasy applications when there are no specific provisions in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordnance 2001, Zulkefli said the answer was yes.

Today’s decision means the four applicants — Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hosen and Muslim converts Jenny binti Peter alias Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah, Mohd Syafiq Abdullah alias Tiong Choo Ting and Salina Jau binti Abdullah — must have their cases heard by the Shariah courts. Read more

Top court to hear who has power to decide four Sarawakians’ conversion out of Islam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Four Sarawakians are seeking to have the civil courts declare that they are Christians and have the government’s recognition that they are no longer Muslims. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — The Federal Court is scheduled to hear today the joint appeal of four Sarawakians who want to know if it is the civil or the state Shariah courts which can decide on their bid to convert out of Islam.

The hearing is part of the many years of waiting by the four who just want their identity card and official records to reflect the fact that they are now practising Christians. Read more

Protesters give Sarawak three months to amend land code

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Nicholas Bawin addresss the peaceful assembly at the Old Court House on November 13, 2017. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Nov 13 — The organisers of a rally here today gave the Sarawak state government three months to respond to calls for amendments to the Sarawak Land Code relating to native customary rights land issues.

They demanded Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also the NCR land state task force chairman, to be seen doing something concrete within the three months’ period.

“We want action before the next sitting of the state assembly or else more assemblies will be held until our demands are met,” chief organiser Nicholas Bawin told reporters at the Old Court House where the peaceful assembly was held.

In a memorandum submitted to the state government following the peaceful assembly, the organisers want amendments to the land code to include giving recognition to territorial domain (“pemakai menoa”) and communal forest reserves (“pulau galau”), the definition of “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” must be based on the definition of the council of Dayak customs and traditions, the court must be empowered to exercise out NCR lands out of the provisional leases or licences of planted forest, and NCR land must be excluded from the definition of state land.

The issuance of document of title should also not be indefeasible against NCR land, they said.

The organisers also want the state government to put a moratorium on all appeals on NCR land cases, with a view to withdraw them upon the amendments of the Sarawak Land Code. Read more

In Federal Court, Sarawak natives suffer yet another blow

Source: FMT News

PUTRAJAYA: The natives of Sarawak today suffered yet another setback in their fight to preserve their ancestral land.

A five-man Federal Court bench allowed the appeal by the Sarawak government and the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) in a case involving a piece of disputed land.

Justice Suriyadi Halim Omar said the apex court was setting aside the decisions of the 2011 High Court and the 2014 Court of Appeal rulings as the development order, the principal deed and the joint-venture agreement were found to be valid.

A group of 12 natives had gone to court after the Sarawak Government entered into an agreement with three firms to develop some native customary right (NCR) land, including the disputed 600ha.

Suriyadi, who delivered the judgment on the eve of his retirement, said a 600 ha “red area” in D75 was NCR land owned by some of the 12 respondents. Read more

No objection from cops over Dayak’s peaceful assembly over NCR land issues

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUCHING, Nov 1 ― The police have no problem with the Dayak community’s peaceful assembly here on November 13 to express frustration over many unresolved issues relating to native customary rights (NCR) land, organisers said today.

Deputy chairman of the organising committee Nicholas Bawin said Kuching district police chief ACP Abang Ahmad Abang Julai conveyed the message in a meeting with them on Monday.

“Therefore, we are happy that the police are giving their cooperation for us to hold the assembly at the Kuching Waterfront,” he told reporters.

Bawin, who is a former deputy president of the Council of Customs and Traditions of the Dayak community, invites all the Dayak landowners to come to the assembly and listen to speeches by community leaders and NCR land lawyers. Read more

Civil society groups to rally for Land Code amendment

Source: The Malaysian Insight

A SLEW of civil society groups will hold a rally in Kuching on November 13 to pressure the Sarawak government to speed up an amendment to the state’s Land Code.

The rally, to coincide with the sitting of the state legislative assembly, follows two major court decisions that had gone against Sarawak’s Dayak landowners’ interests.

One of the rally leaders, Nicholas Mujah, who is secretary of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), said the proposed site of the Perhimpunan Aman Solidarity Orang Asal (the indigenous people’s solidarity and peaceful gathering) was the waterfront, on the side of the Sarawak River opposite the state legislative assembly.

Mujah said a memorandum would be submitted to the legislature during the gathering. Read more

Federal Court rules native land cannot be restored after lease conversion

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUCHING, Oct 13 — Native customary rights (NCR) land cannot be returned to the native owners once converted to Lease of State Land, the Federal Court ruled today.

“The effect of this conversion is that the disputed lands are no longer provisional leases but a lease proper and are entitled to the protection of Section 132 of the Sarawak Land Code, which title stands good against the whole world,” Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Shariff said his written judgment.

The judgment read out by Federal Court deputy registrar Edwin Paramjothy  Michael Muniandy here was on a case brought by headman Nyutan Jami, Ganga Guma and Langga Kama representing 183 villagers who sued the Land Custody and Development Board, Nirwana Muhibbah Sdn Bhd and state government.

The board and Nirwana are the registered co-proprietors of Lot 2 Block 6, Lot 166 Block 5 and Lot 7 Block 3, all of Melikin Land District, under the provisional leases issued by the state government that were later converted to Lease of State land.

This decision overrules the previous High Court and Court of Appeal rulings in favour of the native owners. Read more