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New Native Court Dept mooted
Published on: Friday, November 22, 2019
By: Hayati Dzulkifli
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KOTA KINABALU: A Native Court Judiciary Department will be set up under the Ministry of Law and Native Affairs (Kuhean) that will be on par with Civil and Syariah Courts in the country.

Law and Native Affairs Minister Datuk Aidi Moktar said this new department would enjoy autonomy, free from any intervention by other bodies.

It will be capable of operating on its own and can apply for funds from the Government, similar to other judiciary departments in Sabah.

“This proposal is among suggestions by a Steering Committee for the Study of Law and Sabah Native Affairs and Restructuring of the Native Courts for the purpose of reviewing native laws so that proper amendments could be carried out in accordance with time and native community needs in Sabah.

“Another objective is to devise a structure for the administration of the native court to establish a system of court hierarchy that is comparable to the Civil and Syariah Courts in Sabah.

“Hence, establishment of this new department will give the people of Sabah the impression that the Native Court is a stand-alone institution. 

“It will boost Sabahans’ confidence on the justice of the Court,” he said when winding his speech of the ministry at State Legislative Assembly.

Another suggestion by the same committee, Aidi said, is amending existing Native laws and creating new enactments related to native affairs such as Native Court Administration Enactment, Native Court Civil Procedure Enactment, Native Court Crime Procedure Enactment, Native Court Evidence Enactment and Native Court Crime Offence Enactment.

He said there is a law on native affairs that has not been updated since the 1960s until today and the probability of a legal provision being irrelevant is high. Therefore, he said there is a need to amend or create new laws, accordingly.

“The cases filed at the Native Courts are increasing because the people of Sabah nowadays are more aware and seem to prefer to make claims based on customary law.

“Hence, a more organised and up-to-date State native law administration system is needed to address this. The legislative and judicial systems involving the native affairs of Sabah are required to ensure that the judicial system can run smoothly and to provide more fair and equitable decisions or solutions to the indigenous communities in the State,” he said.

According to Aidi, his Ministry also plans through the Department of Native Affairs, to publish a journal of Native Courts cases that will cover the cases of the Native Court for reference and sentencing.

This effort, he said, will also indirectly record the customs of indigenous peoples in Sabah especially the Indigenous or Native people.

In organising training programme to all native custom heads (Ketua-Ketua Adat) including new appointments, he said, so far, a total of 2,048 out of 3,537 heads have attended the training.

On the 2020 State Budget proposed expenditure of RM4.1 billion with a surplus of RM48.55 million, Aidi said a total of RM106.22 million is allocated for management of Islamic affairs and education in Sabah which includes allocations for the Department of Islamic Religious Affairs (Jheains), Sabah Islamic Religious Council (Muis) and Sabah Baitulmal Corporation for 2020.

In regard to this Ministry and the Department of Native Affairs, Aidi said a total of RM47.06 million has been allocated for operating expenditure whereby RM39.74 million will be used for the expenditure of the District Head’s institution, Native Head, Representatives of Native Affairs, Village heads; and Chinese Community Kapitan.

In addition, he said RM2.5 million is to be allocated to the Department of Native Affairs to continue the planned programs.

“The fund will be spent, among others, to continue the construction of two Native Court buildings each in Tambunan and Ranau.

“To date, five new Native Court buildings and a training institution building have been constructed. Accordingly, the State Government has allocated a sum of RM1 million for the purpose of maintaining the Native Court buildings for 2020,” Aidi said.

On minimum age allowed for underage marriages, he said the State Government has agreed to raise the minimum age limit of marriage to 18 for both men and women, in a state policy speech during the sitting session of the State Legislative Assembly last April.

In this respect, he said any applicable legal provisions should be amended accordingly where his Ministry has commenced efforts to formulate a state plan of action related to minors with stakeholders by organising a three-day workshop held on July 1 to 3, this year. The workshop was co-organised with Unicef Malaysia.

“The three-day workshop has produced a blueprint for addressing minor marriages for the State of Sabah and gained the commitment and support and cooperation of government representatives and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“The plan will be coordinated with a national action plan run by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community

Development. Reports from the workshop are being carefully discussed by committees that has formed and established under this Ministry to review all legal provisions to be amended in order to realise an aspiration and effort to eradicate underage or child marriages.

“The steps taken are in accordance with local conditions and taking into account important factors such as cultural, customary, religious and racial backgrounds,” he said.



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