JOHOR BARU, Dec 7 — Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian declined to comment on the controversy surrounding Pulau Kukup’s loss of its gazetted status as a national park and subsequent conversion to “sultanate land”.
Instead, he said the matter will be fully explored when he answers an emergency motion on the same topic during Sunday’s Johor state legislative assembly sitting.
“I will answer on Sunday after two other executive committee members finish their speeches during the winding-up of the state legislative assembly,” said Osman, who is also the Kempas assemblymen.
The media asked him for the Johor government’s stance on reviewing the degazettement of Pulau Kukup as a national park during a Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s Back-To-School and charity event held in Dewan Cahaya TNB in Kempas here today.
Earlier today, veteran newsman Datuk A Kadir Jasin, writing on his personal blog, said Osman must explain how Pulau Kukup was made “sultanate land” after being degazetted as a national park.
He said that if the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government under Osman approved the deal, then it is no better than the last Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“If Osman can’t explain to the satisfaction of the people who voted him and the PH in seven months ago, then he should consider resigning,” said Kadir in his personal capacity.
Kadir also asked Osman whether there was outside interference with his administration.
Concerns about Pulau Kukup status was sparked by a gazette 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.
On September 24, the state executive committee under PH approved the degazettement and this time, a gazette on the decision was published on October 25.
The state government asserted that the decision was made by the previous administration and it was not aware that this was already decided.
The move will nullify its status as a Ramsar Convention “Wetland of International Importance” site.
Media reported that Pulau Kukup will become Sultanate Land after the Johor government degazetted it from a national park.
However, the Johor state assembly yesterday passed an emergency motion for the state government to review the matter.
Earlier this week, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim tweeted that the island, one of the few pristine wetlands in South-East Asia, will be better protected after its status was changed from a national park to “sultanate land”.
Tunku Ismail, who is popularly known as TMJ, said it was also practised in the United Kingdom where all the parks belong to the Crown.
However, Tunku Ismail said yesterday Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had decreed that Pulau Kukup would remain a national park after it becomes “sultanate land” under the Sultanate Land Enactment.
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’ (UN) Convention on Wetlands.