KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is favourable to a call by a senior judge for a tribunal be set up to resolve cases involving Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said his ministry would study Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum’s proposal.
“This is a good suggestion. But we need to do the necessary studies first because it would involve, among others, amendments to various laws including the Native Enactment,” he told The Star yesterday.
He said the move would help safeguard the interests of Sabah natives, particularly those involving land matters.
“The outcome of the ministry’s study will be brought to the attention of the Chief Minister and the state Cabinet as well,” he added.
Hajiji noted there were many cases related to native land that were brought to the courts.
“Sometimes, these cases are complicated because they do not only involve the plaintiff and respondent, but other parties have to come into the picture, such as the Land Office or village chief,” he noted.
On Friday, Malanjum said the courts in Sabah and Sarawak were burdened by NCR land cases that took much time to settle.
He said 20 new such cases were registered in Sarawak last year, while a similar number were disposed of in the same period.
However, Malanjum pointed out that 28 NCR land cases remains pending. He said the cases needed time to be resolved as they involved many witnesses and interpreters due to dialect problems.
Malanjum noted that Sabah had 45 known dialects and there were more in Sarawak.
If the NCR land tribunal was set up, he said the members should be made up of those knowledgeable about native land claims.