KUCHING: A proposal to review the current system of the original courts in Sarawak to make them more autonomous and independent, like other courts, received the nod of approval from Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said he agreed with the proposal as a way forward for national courts to learn how to deal with the demands and challenges of changing times.
He therefore urged to form a special committee consisting of members of the legal fraternity, community leaders who are familiar with the adat (indigenous law) and academics, with recommendations to the government about the new structure of the national courts.
He said that this special committee would study the case thoroughly so that the court could be elevated and have the same autonomy and independence as the civil and syariah courts.
"(This is), so that we have a good structure to go to a certain level of quality in our own courts as an institution.
"We will discuss further how we can form this special committee, and have the committee advise the government on the structure of the national courts.
"If you want the national courts to be independent and independent of other courts, there must be a thorough study from all angles, against which I am sure that we can move on to a new era," he said at a dinner. commemorating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the office of the chief registrar of Native Courts or Sarawak, here on Friday.
It was established in 1993 as a unit under the headquarters of the Minister, and comes directly under the State Secretary.
Lead registrant Datu Michael Dawi Alli, who spoke earlier, had proposed to review the system because of the many challenges to ensure that national courts remain relevant in this digital age.
Abang Johari said he agreed that a re-look and a revision of the indigenous court system was necessary. He also said that the autochthonous law in Sarawak itself has evolved since the indigenous judge was declared one of the four courts in Sarawak during the Brooke era.
"Society is becoming more and more sophisticated, so to deal with this refinement, we need to revise the system based on our adat," he said.
On a related issue, Abang Johari suggested that an investigation be conducted to decide whether land issues would be delivered in the indigenous court or the civil court.
He said that this was necessary after recent changes to the Sarawak Land Code regarding pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
"I do not know if it will fall under a civil or indigenous lawsuit, but I am sure that there will be cases in the future concerning the ownership of indigenous areas.
"Assuming there are disputes, we need to decide whether they will be delivered to the civil or indigenous court, and I believe that an investigation needs to be done to determine this," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi Abdul Ghani, State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datam Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, Sarawak Science Research adviser Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and cabinet staff attended the function.
The prime minister later presented special service reminders to former head registrars and magistrates of the Native Courts of Sarawak.