KUCHING, May 24 — A Bill to repeal the current Native Courts Ordinance 1992 and the Native Courts Rules 1993 and replace them with a new ordinance will be tabled at the next sitting of the Sarawak State Assembly, Minister in the Premier’s Department Datuk John Sikie Tayai said today.
He said the transformation of the Native Courts would commence after the new Native Courts Ordinance has been passed in the state assembly.
“Now I would like to share with members of this august House on the effort by the state government to elevate the Native Courts Sarawak into an independent judicial system equivalent to the Shariah and civil courts,” he said in his winding-up speech in the state assembly here.
He said the state government has engaged a consultant to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the current relevance of the Native Courts to meet the rising expectations of the stakeholders in today’s digitalisation and globalisation era.
He said the study to transform the Native Courts was commissioned by the state government in January 2020.
He said the consultant appointed to undertake the study had submitted its final report in March this year.
“The outcome and recommendations therein will soon be presented to the state Cabinet for consideration and approval,” he said.
Sikie said the Native Courts is part of the plural legal systems in Malaysia enshrined in the Federal Constitution under the Ninth Schedule, List IIA Item 13.
He added the Native Courts Ordinance 1992 and the Native Courts Rules 1993 currently in use is a consolidation of various Rajah’s Orders and Ordinances enforced during the Rajah’s reign, the colonial period and the post-independence era.
He said the establishment of the office of the Chief Registrar, Native Courts Sarawak on June 1, 1993 was a significant step into the transformation of the Native Courts.
Sikie said the Chief Registrar, Native Courts Sarawak supervises all the gazetted 66 Native Courts’ Registries throughout Sarawak.
“Currently, the overall numbers of Presiding Officers serving the Native Courts are about 7,000,” he added.
He said as up to May 12, 2022, the total number of registered cases is 15,954 cases, out of which 10,025 cases have been resolved, comprising native customary rights (NCR) land disputes between natives, breaches of native laws and customs and applications by non-native to be identified with a native community.
“This achievement is equivalent to 62.8 per cent,” he added.
Sikie said the Native Courts has continued to strive for further excellence in its continuous effort and commitment to settle and reduce the number of backlogged cases by implementing Balanced Scorecard (BSC) in the beginning of 2022 by focusing and concentrating on settlement of cases involving NCR land disputes and land compensation as its main Key Performance Indicator (KPI) or Objective.
“The settlement of these cases has tremendously contributed to the unity and harmony amongst the native communities in Sarawak,” he said.