East Malaysian judge must be present in relevant Court of Appeal cases, says Sarawak CM

Sulok Tawie
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg attends a state-level Gawai Dayak celebration in Kuching June 15, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, June 16 — Sarawak wants one of the Court of Appeal (CoA) judges hearing cases coming from the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak to come from either of the two states, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said.

He said he has brought up this issue for discussion at the Steering Cabinet Committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Normally, the hearing before the Court of Appeals of cases, which originate from the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, are heard by judges who are not from the two states,” he said at the state-level Gawai Dayak celebration here last night.

“This is the issue which is being looked into by the steering committee so that we have a structured way on how we manage ourselves,” he added.

The chief minister said that a judge from Sarawak would be more familiar with the local conditions and situation and way of life of the local communities than those from Peninsular Malaysia.

Abang Johari also said he had instructed his deputy Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah to head a committee to improve the structure of the Native Court system based on traditions and customs.

He said he has asked that a legal expert be engaged to guide the committee.

The chief minister said the restructuring of the Native Court system should place it on par with the Civil Court or Shariah Court.

He said many problems and disputes relating to traditions and customs, like native customary rights land, can be settled by the restructured Native Courts.

“The Civil Court may not be efficient to adjudicate the disputes relating to traditions and customs, and that is where the Native Courts can come in,” he said.

The Native Courts system has been part of the state administration system since before even the formation of Malaysia.

It has also been part and parcel of the Resident and District Office administration and under the Native Courts Ordinance which was passed by Sarawak State Legislative Assembly in November 1992.

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