KUCHING: The Sarawak government plans to elevate the state's native courts into an independent judicial system equivalent to the syariah and civil courts.
Minister in the Premier's Department Datuk John Sikie said a new Native Courts Bill was expected to be tabled in the state legislative assembly's next sitting at the end of the year to pave the way for the move.
He said it would replace the current Native Courts Ordinance 1992 and the Native Courts Rules 1993.
"The proposed transformation of the native courts would commence in earnest only after the new Native Courts Ordinance has been passed," he told the state legislature during his winding-up speech on Tuesday (May 24).
Sikie said the state government commissioned a study to transform the native courts in January 2020.
He said the study's final report was submitted in March this year after a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The outcome and recommendations therein will soon be presented to the state Cabinet for consideration and approval," he said.
Sikie also said a total of 15,954 cases had been registered with the native courts as of May 12 this year.
Of this total, he said 10,025 cases had been resolved, involving native customary rights land disputes between natives, breaches of native laws and customs, and applications by non-natives to be identified with a native community.
In addition, Sikie said the state government had upgraded 21 native courtrooms since 2015 at a total cost of RM3.2mil.
Three more native courtrooms in the Lingga and Daro district offices and Medamit sub-district office will be upgraded this year.
"This is being implemented by the state Development Office," he said.