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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Baru: We'll apply for review of Federal Court's decision on Iban land case



Sarawak PKR chief, Baru Bian, who acted for Tuai Rumah Sandah Anak Tabau in its case against the Sarawak government, said he has received instructions to file a review over the Federal Court's decision that does not recognise the Iban's practices of “pemakai menoa” and “pulau” regarding land ownership.
Baru, when contacted by Malaysiakini confirmed that his client dropped by his office yesterday to sign the relevant documents.
“I think there are some openings for a review or even a re-hearing,” he said when contacted.
Baru expects to file the application by the end of the week.
While the apex court seldom grants a review of its decision, it can do so, he said, citing Rules 137 of the Federal Court rules.
The rule states “For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that nothing in these Rules shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the court to hear any application or to make any order as may be necessary to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the court.”
It was reported in a 3-1 majority decision that the Federal Court ruled that the Iban practice of “pemakai menoa” and “pulau” was not enforceable in law.
“Pemakai menoa” is termed territorial domain while "pulau" is a term used to denote primary land under primary forest maintained under the Iban custom, where they derive food, medicines, wildlife and other produce.

Court of Appeal president Justice Md Raus Sharif, along with Federal Court judges Justice Ahmad Ma'arop and Justice Abu Samah Nordin ruled in favour of allowing the appeal by the Sarawak forest department director, and Sarawak government, by overturning the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal which recognised the indigenous right.
Another Federal Court judge Justice Zainun Ali dissented.
Justice Md Raus in his udgment questioned whether “pemakai menoa” and “pulau” had any force in law, and he further argued that those two do not fall within the definition of customary laws under Sarawak state laws.
On the other hand, Justice Zainun who took a dissenting view opined that to fit native customary rights into the picture, it would fit either as an aspect of 'common law' or ‘customs’ that are recognised by the common law’ and thus have the ‘force of law' there.- Mkini

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