Columnist seeks court declaration to recognise NCR

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Marcel Jude

KOTA KINABALU: A local newspaper columnist Marcel Jude yesterday filed an application for leave for judicial review against the Chief Minister of Sabah and the state government of Sabah, with regard to the issue of the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land status, in the High Court, here.

It has been fixed for hearing on April 3, 2012 at 9am before judge Datuk David Wong Dak Wah.

In his application, Marcel sought an order of mandamus and prohibition to prevent the respondents from enforcing the policy of refusing to recognise any NCR that came into existence after 1930 or NCR that cannot be proved to have existed since 1930.

He is also seeking declarations to give effect and validity to the NCR, created after 1930.

The application for judicial review is in respect of a statement made last week by the State Attorney General that for a NCR to be valid, it must be proven to have existed since 1930.

Although the statement may be seen as just a statement, it doesn’t quite work out that way, said Marcel.

He contended that government officers, agencies and administrative bodies would view it as a rule or policy since it originated from the office of the state AG, the legal advisor to the state government.

“From a statement, it will automatically evolve into a government policy and maybe into a rule or convention. It is important to nip it in the bud.

“Once its a rule or policy, it will be too late to turn back the clock and irreparable harm will have been done to NCR in the state of Sabah,” he said.

After filing his case, Marcel issued an email statement which read “the statement made by the State Attorney-General on NCR last week is not just his personal statement but may now reflect the policy of the state government”.

“In effect, it will mean the eventual abolishment of NCR because there has been no documentation of these rights.

“How can there be because NCR is not part of documented rights. You cannot even place a caveat to protect NCR. But how many people can show or prove that their NCR existed since 1930,” he said.

Marcel said the statement of the state AG should not be viewed as a mere statement.

“Let me give you an example. A day after the statement was made, let us assume a hearing is held in the ACLR or PPHT office.

One of the parties in the hearing claims NCR in the dispute but is summarily dismissed because of the SAG statement on this matter and the ACLR will be expected to follow the law according to what was stipulated by the SAG,” he said.

He said: “After all in regard to legal matters and issues the officers of the state government will follow the opinion or statements of the SAG”.

“Now duplicate that hearing in one ACLR office to offices throughout the State of Sabah.

That will mean that whenever issues of NCR are raised, they will not be recognised by government officials because of the SAG’s statement,” he said. — Bernama