Thursday, 21st January 2010
Two land owners won their respective court cases in the Kuching High Court today, the decisions of which may open a floodgate of civil actions against the Sarawak Government.
In the first case, Mohamad Rambli bin Kawi of Kampung Lintang sought declarations that he had acquired native customary rights over 51 parcels of NCR land situated at Loba Rambungan, Kuching.
He also sought a declaration that the extinguishment of his land under Section 5 (3) and (4) of the Sarawak Land Code was unconstitutional.
Following the extinguishment notice, Mohamad Rambli had on 9 September 2002 submitted his claims to the Land and Survey Department, but his claims was rejected.
The State Government rejected his claim arguing that the Malays in Sarawak did not have any native customary rights over land.
10 similar cases
In a landmark decision, High Court Judge David Wong allowed his claims and ordered the government to extinguish his rights over the land and pay compensation in accordance with law.
About 10 cases of similar nature involving the Malays are now before the court.
In the case of Agi anak Bungkong, he sued the government on behalf of 196 Iban families from 15 longhouses over NCR land in and around their longhouses in Selezu, Setulai and Sepadok in the Sebauh District, Bintulu.
They claimed that they had native customary rights over those lands which, to them, were more than just lands but which constituted their life, and from where they derived food, valuable medicines, wildlife and natural produce for their livelihood and sustenance.
They cultivated padi, fruit trees, rubber, cocoa and other essential and crops on those lands. Hence, they argued that NCR land, comprising lands and forests, were not just a source of livelihood but life itself.
They said that their NCR over their lands was recognised in and by law and expressly acknowledged and honoured by the government of the day.
However, possibly due to an act of recklessness and negligence of the 4th defendant (Land and Survey Department) and the 5th defendant (the State Government) or in disregard of the plaintiffs' acquired, vested or accrued rights in the native customary land, two provisional leases over Lot 2 Block 4 Selezu Land District and Lot 2 Block 34 Kemena Land District were issued to the 2nd defendant (Lembaga Tabung Haji) and 3rd defendant (Semai Mekar Sdn Bhd) on 2 December 1996.
The said provisional leases covered and included a substantial part of the plaintiffs' said NCR land.
Order to ratify NCR lands
High Court Judge David Wong granted that the plaintiffs have native customary rights over the lands they cleared.
The judge ordered that the NCR lands should be ratified and excluded from the provisional leases.
The plaintiffs must be given vacant possessions forthwith, he said.
For the two cases, the judge ordered that damages for the plaintiffs to be assessed at 4% interest per annum from the date of encroachment to the date of judgment and 8% from the date of judgment to the realization of the payment.
Costs to the plaintiffs are to be assessed by the court.
The two cases were represented by Messrs Baru Bian, Advocates & Solicitors.
Personally Bukittunggal.com would like to congratulate the two NCR land owners for winning the case, and to Sdra Baru Bian for successfully defends the rights of the NCR landowners.
BRAVO Sdra Baru Bian!Mupok Aku
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