Judges presiding over cases involving native customary land (NCL) should go to the ground before arriving at their judgment Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak said.

Tan Sri Richard Malanjum

Tan Sri Richard Malanjum

Citing Mabo, an Australian case Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said the judge presiding over the case went to to the ground in order to understand the circumstances of the case.

“It is only after the judge visited the disputed area, that he came up with his judgment, Malanjum said, adding local judges may have to follow suit.

The Mabo case is still regarded as an authority cases even though Sarawak has its equivalent in the Nor Anak Nyawai and Madeli Salleh cases.

“What is fair in common law might not be fair in the eyes of the natives. This because they have different concept (of justice), he said in his speech when officiating the launch of Dr Lee Mei Pheng’s “Business Law” textbook at Sarawak Club in Kuching on Friday.

On related matter, Malanjum said the number of NCL cases brought court in Sarawak had been steadily rising.

“There are about 100 cases now pending in court, which we are trying to settle. We consider them ‘emotional’ cases as land issue is always close to the people’s hearts,” he added. — BTU / ET