The court’s ruling that might affect the votes in Sarawak in the GE14

The forests and everything that is in there that we still have in the ‘pulau galau’ and the ‘pemakai menoa’ are the gifts of the customs and practices of the natives to the state of Sarawak and to its people.

The natives created ‘the pemakai menoa’ or the territorial domain of the longhouses, the traditional Iban dwelling places, and the ‘pulau galau’ or the community’s forest reserve in order to preserve, conserve, protect and maintain the environment.

These two ideas are the natives’ way of dealing with human activities. There has to be some forms of sanctions to limit and reduce the activities of man that can be extremely destructive and disruptive to the environment.

The customary practices of creating the ‘pemakai menoa’ and the ‘pulau galau’ certainly have contributed to a large extent in forest management in Sarawak. Use what is enough for today and reserve the rest for those who are yet to be born, is the philosophy behind these two brilliant customary practices.

The forests in the ‘pemakai menoa’ and in the ‘pulau galau’ and the animals that live there might have vanished had these two customary practices not been adopted in the long ago by the people.

The Federal Court, the highest court in the country, has decided that the ‘pemakai menoa’ and the ‘pulau galau’ cannot be classified under the category of the NCR lands, which are the natives customary rights over their lands.

In reference to Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Court is of the opinion that custom and practice of a ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ are insufficient for them to be considered to have the force of the law.

Does this mean that the people have lost their rights over forest management through the ‘pemakai menoa’ and the ‘pulau galau’?

Does this mean that customary law cannot be used as sources of modern law?

Customarily and traditionally, the ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘the pulau galau’ have always been about the interests of the community, the interests of the many over that of the few, and about the interests of the future generations.

There are still here today as everyone in the community recognizes the significance of the ideas, the practices, the principles behind the ideas, and their values to the society.

Should not good traditional practices and customs that have brought benefits to the society be maintained?  

Should not we continue with the customs that help maintain equilibrium, peace, order and goodwill among the people?

Should not we continue to acknowledge and accept the intelligence and the farsightedness of our forefathers in forest management?

The customs and traditions have not allowed the people to take and take that nothing is left.

Is this a case of no good deed never goes unpunished?

The onus now is for the government to continue with the brilliant customs and practices of the people in managing the forests.

But the one that is of immediate concern to the BN must be whether the Federal Court’s verdict on the ‘pemakai menoa’ and on the ‘pulau galau’ is going to influence how the majority of the people in the state is going to vote in the country’s 14th general election that is due in April 2018. – Sarawakvoice