The Court of Appeal again confirmed that the ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ land groups fall under native customary rights (NCR).
KUCHING: Native landowners in Sarawak who are fighting for their NCR land rights scored another major victory when the Court of Appeal again validated their claim that lands under the ‘Pemakai Menoa’ and ‘Pulau Galau’ groupings are indeed native customary rights (NCR) land.
A senior NCR lawyer here, Baru Bian said the verdict disproved the stand of the Sarawak state government as asserted by Adenan Satem, a minister in the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s office during the recent state assembly sitting.
Adenan said during the sitting last month that the state government only acknowledged ‘temuda’ land (farmland) created before January 1, 1958 as NCR land.
“Once again the Court of Appeal has confirmed that ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ are NCR lands.
“This was held in a decision handed down on Thursday in two appeals which were heard together,” Baru said in a press statement.
Bian who is also state PKR chief, said the native landowners had at the trial in Sibu High Court claimed amongst others for a declaration that their NCR land included the ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ groupings.
The lands in question had been included in the area of a Provisional Lease (PL) issued to Rosebay Enterprise Sdn Bhd, ‘without’ the natives’ knowledge and had been ‘done wrongfully’ and in ‘utter disregard’ of the native landowners acquired or accrued rights over their said NCR.
“After considering the submissions of all the parties on the evidence and the law, the learned trial judge found in favour of the plaintiffs (natives) and the defendants ( Rosebay) appealed against the decision of the High Court.
“The second and thirrd defendants; the superintendent of Land and Survey Department Sibu Division and the government of the State of Sarawak filed their appeal under Civil Appeal No. Q01-138-03-2012 whereas the first defendant, Rosebay Sdn Bhd appealed under Civil Appeal No. Q-02-661-03/2012,” Baru said.
He also stated that in October 2013, the Court of Appeal heard the appeal, and the three judges led by Abdul Wahab Patail, were unanimous in their judgement where the appeal was dismissed with costs and damages.
The natives , Usang Labit and three others, were represented by Baru, Simon Siah, Chua Kuan Ching and Joshua Baru.
‘Pemakai Menoa’ is an Iban phrase referring to the territorial area of a longhouse community where customary rights to land resources were generated by their pioneering forefathers.
Meanwhile, ‘Pulau Galau’ is a term referring to a communal reserve intentionally left untouched for upcoming resources by the community.
In September, the Court of Appeal sitting in Kuching ruled that ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ are NCR lands under the Iban ‘adat’ (customs).
The three-judge panel made its decision after hearing two cases together, involving landowners from Serian against the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA), Nirwarna Muhibbah Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak government.
Baru, who also represented the native landowners in the cases involving the lands in Melikin, illustrated the judgement as ‘very important and timely’, and that it signified another triumph for the Sarawak natives.
“This is because the state government had all these while argued that NCR in Sarawak is only restricted to the felled area or the ‘temuda’, not the ‘pemakai menoa’, or ‘pulau galau’ area.
The decision in September was the third judgment by the Court of Appeal after its verdict in the milestone case in 2010. -- Free Malaysia Today