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S’wak loses appeal over NCR land decision

 | June 22, 2013

The Court of Appeal’s decision has far reaching effects on more than 200 NCR land cases which are now pending hearing before the High Court.

KUCHING: The Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a ruling that the pemakai menoa (territorial domain) is part of the native customary rights (NCR) land, is not only a victory of NCR land owners in Sarawak but it also strengthens the political belief and reputation of the opposition especially PKR.

The court dismissed an appeal by the Sarawak government against the earlier judgment of Justice Yew Jen Kie.

Encroachments by the state government into NCR land have always been a hot political issue in previous elections and will continue to be so in future elections.

Thus the decision of the Court of Appeal yesterday had far reaching effects on more than 200 NCR land cases which are now pending hearing before the High Court.

The land owners (plaintiffs) Tuai Rumah Sandah Anak Tabau and Tuai Rumah Lajang and 28 others were represented by Baru Bian and his lawyers from Sarawak PKR.

Bian is also the chairman of the Sarawak PKR and Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman.

Commenting on the decision, Bian said: “This decision of the Court of Appeal is a victory for the people of Sarawak who have been fighting for the recognition that their NCR lands is not limited to the temuda as the state government has been trying to claim.

“It remains to be seen whether the BN government will respect the decision of the Court of Appeal in carrying out perimeter surveys and whether they will be more respectful of the rights of the native people when issuing timber licenses etc to logging and plantation companies,” he said.

In the High Court, Sandah and Lajang had sued Kanowit Timber Company Sdn Bhd and the state government for encroaching into their NCR land, including their pemakai menoa (territorial domain) vide a timber licence issued by the state government to Kanowit Timber Company Sdn Bhd.

The company had argued that NCR should be restricted to the temuda covering an area of 2,712 hectares, which had been cleared before 1958.

However, Justice Yew ruled in favour of Sandah and Lajang, declaring that they were the rightful owners of the NCR land covering an area of 5,512 hectares, including the pemakai menoa, and that the defendants had unlawfully encroached into the plaintiffs’ land.

The High Court had declared that they have customary rights and/or native customary rights over the lands edged as shown in the map marked ‘M’ to the statement of claim.

The court also declared that the company and agents had trespassed on the land and that they be restrained from further trespassing, clearing, using or occupying Sandah and Lajang’s native customary rights land.


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