KOTA ISKANDAR: The issue concerning the degazetting of Pulau Kukup’s national park status has taken a new twist after the Johor state assembly today passed an urgent motion for the state government to review the matter.
A proposal to review the decision was tabled by Senggarang assemblyman Khairuddin A Rahim.
The Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) assemblyman’s motion was supported by all Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives.
However, all Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblyman did not support it.
Khairuddin had argued that the Taman Negara Johor Pulau Kukup’s status as a national park should be maintained due to its importance as an eco-sensitive area.
He said the island had the world’s second-biggest mangrove forest and was ratified as a Wetlands of Importance International site (RAMSAR).
“Therefore, it should not be de-gazetted as a national park,” he said.
He also argued that news concerning Pulau Kukup’s status had caused much confusion among the people, leading some to accuse the current administration of being responsible for the degazzetement.
“This is absolutely not true as Pulau Kukus’s status as a national park was removed way before the 14th General Election (GE14),” he said.
Yesterday, Johor exco member Aminolhuda Hassan said the de-gazetting of Pulau Kukup's national park status was done by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
Meanwhile, Tenang assemblyman, Solihan Badri, said Pulau Kukus’ status must be maintained for future generations.
He said the island was a pristine wetlands with 27 different mangrove species, including the rare Bakau Kurap, and was also home to different mammals, reptiles and bird species.
Bukit Naning assemblyman Md Ysahrudin Kusni, said the island was too precious to be taken of the national parks list and everything must be done to restore its status.
After the three assemblymen debated the motion, it was approved and passed by the state assembly with a majority support of the Pakatan Harapan-led assembly.
Concerns about the island’s status 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.
It was reported that Pulau Kukup will become Sultanate land after the Johor government de-gazetted it from a national park.
Earlier this week, the Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim was quoted as saying 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.
Tunku Ismail said it was also 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.
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.