JOHOR BARU: Pulau Kukup will become Sultanate land after the Johor state government has de-gazetted it from a national park said Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim.
He claimed that the island, one of the few pristine wetlands in South-East Asia, will be "better protected" after its status is changed from national park to Sultanate land.
“In the past, several national parks were privatised but in Johor, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has a different vision.
“To better protect all national parks, Sultan Ibrahim decreed that all the national parks be changed to Sultanate land,” he tweeted.
Tunku Ismail added that it was practised in the United Kingdom where all the parks belong to the crown.
“However, this does not change the status, policies, and usage of the park where it continues to remain a national park status,” he said.
There are six national parks in Johor including Endau-Rompin Peta, Endau-Rompin Selai, Tanjung Piai, Pulau Kukup, Gunung Ledang, and Sultan Iskandar Marine Park.
It was reported that Pulau Kukup may cease having full protection as a national park as the state government is said to be de-gazetting it.
Concerns were sparked by a gazette dated Oct 25, that had gone viral on social media, notifying that the state authorities will cancel the whole area as a national park under subsection 3(3) of the National Park Environment Enactment (Johor) 1989.
Lawyers for Liberty has asked why the stripping of national park status was done "silently", without any public announcement, until the gazette was leaked online.
The group's advisor, N. Surendran, noted that the island was originally gazetted as a national park in 1997 by the then Barisan state government.
"By de-gazetting, the Pakatan state government is proving that they are even worse than Barisan in terms of environmental preservation and protection," he said.
Surendran asked who will profit from from the degazettement, and whether the state intends to develop the area.
He also called on the Prime Minister to use federal powers to urgently intervene and save Pulau Kukup.
Pulau Kukup, located off the coast of Pontian in south Johor, has been a national park since 1997 and mostly uninhabited.
Renowned as the world's second largest uninhabited mangrove island, it is one of five Ramsar sites in Malaysia.
Ramsar sites are wetland sites accorded international importance under the United Nations’ Convention on Wetlands.
According to the Johor National Parks Corporation website, Pulau Kukup plays host to endangered animals such as the flying fox, smooth-coated otter, bearded pig and long-tailed macaque.