KUCHING: The Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) has called for the Native Court in Borneo to be on par with the Shariah Court in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The Dayaks want the Native Court in Sarawak upgraded, like the Shariah Court, in terms of its functions,” SDGA president Dusit Jaul told the Borneo Post.
He was taking his cue from Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum’s keynote address at a workshop in Kuching on the Native Court.
The workshop, on Saturday, was organised by the SDGA and funded by deputy Chief Minister James Masing.
“The workshop unanimously agreed that the Native Court must be at least on par with the Shariah Court,” said Dusit.
The objective should be an independent judiciary system for the Dayak population in Sabah and Sarawak, he added. “The needs of the Orang Asal in Sabah and Sarawak were similar.”
“So, the Native Court in Sarawak should be like that in Sabah.”
The Native Court in Sabah was housed in its complex while Sarawak was still trying to figure out whether it should have one, he said.
For starters, he proposed the Sarawak government make available proper offices and meeting rooms for community leaders.
“The Dayak still rely on the Native Court, especially on matters involving traditional customs and justice.
In his speech, Malanjun said the Native Court was still relevant as Sabah and Sarawak have an estimated Orang Asal population of four to five million.
This large number, he said, practised native culture, customs and traditions.
The workshop deliberated on jurisdiction and power of the Native Court; recognition of marriage based on adat; Native Court and land administration; issues arising from the keynote address and papers presented, and the way forward.
Among the 107 participants at the workshop were former deputy Chief Minister Daniel Tajem, also a lawyer, and Datu Nelly Tanggai who heads the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak.