Study to elevate Sarawak’s Native Court

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah. (Bernama Pix)

By Jack Lapidus

PLANS to elevate Sarawak’s Native Courts into an independent and autonomous judicial institution like the Syariah and Civil Court are underway.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the master plan for the Native Courts of Sarawak is expected to be submitted to the Sarawak government in October this year, Borneo Post reported.

Once submitted, he said the government will consider and implement the recommendations in order to transform and elevate the Native Courts into independent and autonomous judicial institutions.

“This will help the native communities in Sarawak to progress more systematically with greater confidence in tandem with the overall development of the state,” he said.

The nine-month study aims to enhance the relevance and status of the Native Courts in the administration of justice pertaining to native laws and ‘adat’ of the native population in Sarawak.

He said this when witnessing the signing of a Consultancy Services Agreement between the Sarawak government and The E-Factor Sdn Bhd for the Study on the Restructuring and Elevation of the Native Courts of Sarawak in Kuching today.

“We hope that the findings and recommendations of the study will in time provide the basis and justifications for restructuring the current organisational set up including the legal and institutional capability and address other issues which affect the transformation of the Native Courts of Sarawak.

“Therefore, part of the study will also look at the causal factors that impact positively and/or negatively on the ways of life of the natives, in terms of their ‘adat,’ custom and usage,” said Uggah.

The study will need to strike a balance between the duality of the native world and their world views within the contest of introduced public policies.

It will also employ various methods for data and information gathering including field surveys, interviews, discussions through workshops, labs and focus groups, site and department visits as well as conducting comparative study aided by desktop research and literature reviews, he said.

He added that it will also look into the Syariah Courts of Sarawak, the Civil Court, the Maori Land Court in New Zealand, the National Native Title Tribunal in Australia, the Sabah Native Courts and others to gain further insights on common principles, learnings and good practices that can be considered as strategic initiatives in the preparation of the master plan for the native courts of Sarawak.