Sarawak to take thorough look at native courts system

Uggah said a proper review of the operations of the Chief Registrar Office of the Native Courts is both timely and necessary. — Reuters pic
Uggah said a proper review of the operations of the Chief Registrar Office of the Native Courts is both timely and necessary. — Reuters pic

KUCHING, May 9 — The state government is selecting a consultant to undertake a comprehensive study of the native courts system to meet the current needs of the local communities, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.

He said the study will cover the structure, organisation, operations, management, special jurisdictions, and amendments to the existing Native Courts Ordinance 1992.

“The outcome and deliverable of the study will be a masterplan and recommended action plans on the restructuring and elevation of current native courts,” he said in his ministerial winding up debate in the Sarawak State Assembly here.

Uggah said a proper review of the operations of the Chief Registrar Office of the Native Courts is also both timely and necessary.

He said the state government wants to elevate the status of the native courts to be an independent and autonomous judicial system like the shariah and civil courts.

He added the whole study on the native courts system will take nine months to complete.

He said the system is part of the state’s history as it has been part of the administration system even before the formation of Malaysia.

“It has also been part and parcel of the Resident and District Office administration and under the Native Courts Ordinance 1992,” he said, adding that the Residents and District Officers, who are ex-officio First Class Magistrates under the Subordinates Courts Act 1948, are the presiding officers of the Resident and District Native Courts respectively.

Uggah said the functions and operations of the native courts of Sarawak were relevant and applicable to almost 70 per cent of the state population. 

He thanked Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg for recognising and giving due importance to the native courts in the administration of justice pertaining to disputes over native customary rights land and the customs among the natives.

He said the state government also wants to ensure that the native courts system remains relevant in meeting current and future challenges of the native community, particularly the challenges resulting from the continuous development of the rural areas and the digital economy.