Thursday June 27, 2013 By SHARON LING


KUCHING: The Court of Appeal’s decision in a recent land case should settle any dispute over what constitutes native customary rights NCR land in Sarawak.

Last week, the court ruled that pemakai menoa communal land is NCR land, upholding the decision of the Sibu High Court in the case of Tuai Rumah Sandah Tabau.

The decision is expected to have repercussions on the state government’s land development plans, particularly with regard to large-scale oil palm plantations.

Prominent land rights lawyer Baru Bian said the unanimous judgment by the three-member CA panel last Friday followed the landmark decisions of the Court of Appeal in the Nor Nyawai case and the Federal Court in Medeli Salleh that pemakai menoa and pulau galau communal forest reserve are NCR land.

“This decision is very clear. Various interpretations were made in the submissions but we are delighted that, following Nor Nyawai, the judges reaffirmed that pemakai menoa is NCR land,” he told reporters here.

However, he said the problem was that the state’s legal advisers chose not to accept the court’s decision that pemakai menoa and pulau galau were NCR land.In view of this, the state PKR chairman said he would furnish Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and other state ministers with all the court decisions on pemakai menoa and pulau galau.

“To date there are at least five decisions in the High Court that confirm pemakai menoa while Sandah’s decision is at the Court of Appeal. We will give them the judgments so that there will be no more excuses for them to say that pemakai menoa and pulau galau are not NCR land. Let them read the decisions of the courts,” he said, adding that huge areas of state land were in fact pemakai menoa and pulau galau but had been given to oil palm plantations. In the cases that we have won, the court has ordered the land to be returned to the landowners and the provisional lease PL nullified.”

In an immediate response, Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing said the state government would have no choice but to abide by the court’s decision if it affirmed pemakai menoa as NCR land.

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