Dompok also disagrees with AG on NCR

PENAMPANG: United Pasokmomogun KadazanDusun Murut Organization (UPKO) President Tan Sri Bernard Dompok believes that State Attorney General Datuk Roderic Fernandez’s statement about the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land was the latter’s opinion.

Dompok also disagreed with Roderic’s interpretation of the NCR provision in the Sabah Land Ordinance (SLO) in which the latter said that no fresh NCR land could be created after 1930 after the SLO came into force.

Only land ‘still’ occupied by natives prior to December 13 1930 are recognized with the status, Roderic said, adding that there is no provision in the SLO for natives to go into occupation of land after 1930 and claim NCR on it.

“A claimant for NCR today must show occupation of the land prior to 1931,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

According to Dompok, he disagreed with Roderic’s interpretation because NCR by its very terminology means Native Customary Rights and native means somebody who has been staying in that place from time immemorial.

The natives have been here well before laws were made… It’s only when the British came here were laws made, but tribal communities have thrived pre-independence, pre-colonial days, they have thrived and developed the system of culture themselves, the Penampang member of parliament said.

“So this includes ownership of properties, of land, they developed it and for you to say there has to be a cut-off point for this is not correct because all the native laws and customs pre-date laws made by legislature,” Dompok told reporters after witnessing the presentation of printed KadazanDusun language calendars to SK Putaton here yesterday and when asked to comment on Roderic’s statement which many Sabahan leaders disagreed with the state AG.

According to Dompok, “the natives have practised their own system well before the system of legislature came about and we have to respect that.

“And besides, I understand that the courts of law had actually decided that the NCR cannot be extinguished by somebody interpreting it. To me, that is an opinion of the state AG,” he said.

When asked if Roderic’s statement could have been representing the State Government, Dompok replied, “I think before the state AG makes a statement like that he should have cleared with the state government.

“I hope he had done so because it will put the state government in bad light if this is what they think the case is, which is not. It will cause a lot of unhappiness to a large section of communities here,” he stressed.

Meanwhile when asked to comment on the Federal Government’s nod to the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah, Dompok pointed out that all issues including what they expect from the RCI were discussed by the Cabinet on February 8.

The Cabinet had also made the decision to leave all the necessary announcement to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, he said adding, “I want to respect that. If I were to go on further, I would be preempting the Prime Minister.”

“This is something that I have wanted to see over the years. We went through controversies in trying to get this to the Cabinet (and) this is not the first time, I brought it at least three times in the past but it was hanging there, everybody listened but no decision was taken.

“So last February 8, which is a date to record, the Cabinet has decided but of course the Prime Minister will deal with all the rest,” the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister said.

When asked if he thought it would be possible that the RCI completes its task before the election, Dompok said ‘yes’.

“This is because any Commission of Inquiry must be done before the elections otherwise people will start saying ‘you are only doing it for the election’ which is not because this is not a new thing. It has been going on for a long time.

“So it is now finally that a decision has been made. I think if anything, whatever the Government wants to do has to be done before the elections,” he said.

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