KUCHING: The decision on today’s hearing on ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ is to be reserved for a date yet to be fixed. The point of law to be decided is whether customs have the force of law.
In 2009, Ulu Machan residents filed a case related to encroachment of their temuda (farmed land), pemakai menoa and pulau galau land by a plantation company in 2008. The owners of the land which include Tuai Rumah Sandah Tabau, Tuai Rumah Lajang and seven other claimants from Ulu Machan, Kanowit had won the case in both High Court and the Court of Appeal which recognised temuda, pulau galau and pemakai menoa which span a total of 5,630 hectares of land.
In March, the Federal Court here granted leave to the government and a plantation company to appeal the case.
The government contended that they only had rights over 2,802 hectares which they or their ancestors had acquired from clearing virgin jungle for farming as shown in aerial photos taken in 1951, but no rights to the land in the adjoining primary forests of 2,712 hectares which the claimants alleged was their ‘pulau’ where they hunted and foraged for food and medicine.
Scenes from earlier: