Federalism and Indigenous Peoples in Sarawak: The Malaysian Federal Court’s Judgments in Sandah (No 1) and (No 2)

17 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2020

See all articles by Eden HB Chua

Eden HB Chua

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

Legal recognition of indigenous land rights for the indigenous peoples in the Malaysian state of Sarawak is still in an unfortunate state. Despite being the largest ethnic group of the state and enjoying benefits under the federal system, the fight to hold onto their traditional customs is far from over. The recent Malaysia Federal Court rulings in Sandah (No 1) and (No 2) illustrated this point as the court denied their native customary rights on their ancestral land and also their rights to have their case heard by at least one judge with Bornean judicial experience. With no clear law to shed light on the legal existence of their traditional customs as well as the Constitution’s silence on the requirement to have at least one judge with Bornean judicial experience, the Federal Court’s endeavour to resolve these issues merits attention. This paper thus reviews and comments on the decisions of the Federal Court, with special focus on the implications for the federal system.

Suggested Citation

Chua, Eden HB, Federalism and Indigenous Peoples in Sarawak: The Malaysian Federal Court’s Judgments in Sandah (No 1) and (No 2) (March 2020). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, Mar. 2020, pp 341-357, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3656818

Eden HB Chua (Contact Author)

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia ( email )

Law Courts Building, Queens Square
184 Phillip Street
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
Australia

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