KUCHING: Sarawak native courts will soon have qualified magistrates and judges presiding over hearings in a revamp of its native judicial system.
Deputy Minister in the Sarawak Premier's Department (Native Land and Customs) Jefferson Jamit (pic) said this was one of the recommendations of the master plan to transform native courts from a unit under the department to a fully-fledged judicial institution similar to civil and syariah courts.
"Presently, presiding officers are headmen and community leaders at community-level courts, district officers at district native courts and residents at resident native courts," he told John Ilus (GPS-Bukit Semuja) during question time on Wednesday (May 17).
(A resident is the head of an administrative division in Sarawak.)
Jefferson said the findings and recommendations of the master plan, which was completed in February last year, would be presented to the state Cabinet soon for approval and implementation.
He said its main recommendation was to restructure the current six-tier native court to four tiers comprising the Native Magistrate's Court, Native High Court, Native Court of Appeal and Native Supreme Court.
To restructure and elevate the Native Court, Jefferson said the state government would enact new state laws or amend relevant existing laws.
He said the Native Court's jurisdiction was to hear cases involving breaches of native laws and customs for the various bumiputra communities in Sarawak.
The Native Court also hears cases of native customary rights land disputes and compensation claims under the state Land Code.