Fight to elevate Sabah’s native court continues, says Ewon Benedick

Benedick speaking to participants of the state native customary laws literacy seminar in Kota Belud on Saturday (Sept 30).

KOTA KINABALU: Upko will continue the fight to elevate Sabah’s native court to be on equal footing with the civil and syariah courts, says its president Datuk Ewon Benedick.

He said the state has all these three court systems but the native court, which presides over matters involving customary rights and practices of the state’s Kadazandusun Murut Rungus (KDMR) community, was considered as the lesser compared to the other two.

“It has been our party’s and my struggle since before to make these three courts equal among each other. Upko will strive to play its role until it becomes a reality,” added the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister.

He said speaking to reporters after launching a state native customary laws literacy seminar in the Kota Belud district on Saturday (Sept 30)

Benedick, who is also Kadamaian assemblyman, said among the achievements by Upko on indigenous community affairs was the setting up of the Sabah Native Court Training Institute in Penampang near here.

He said he had also proposed for a native court building to be built in Kota Belud, hoping it could be implemented under the 13th Malaysia Plan (2026-2030).

“The native court building must be set up in Kota Belud so (the court) does not need to ride on the District Office.

“We just need to identify the site for the building. I suggest building it in the Kadamaian area,” he said.

On the funds for the project, Benedick said, they could apply for allocation from the Federal Government through the special Sabah native programme when the site is identified.

He urged the people to make full use of the existing native courts and services provided.

“The courts belong to all of us. So, use it for all matters under native customary laws such as marriages, engagements or native land matters.

“I had myself registered my marriage through the Kota Belud native court,” Benedick said.

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