GEORGE TOWN: The state government has no plans to make Pulau Jerejak a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said a mixed development including a theme park had been planned for the island.
“Declaring the island as a World Heritage site does not arise as an application was only received this year,” he said in reply to Kumaresan Aramugam (PH-Batu Uban).
Kumaresan had asked if the state would consider the island’s application as a heritage site.
Chow said the Deputy Tourism Minister had indicated that the heritage site would be considered but no assurance has been given.
He added that Tropical Island Resort Sdn Bhd would be developing the southern part of the island.
“The Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the development was approved this year.
“As the development is within the 76m altitude restriction, a detailed geographical study was not needed and approval for the development was given in 2016.
“However, the developer has yet to submit a planning permission to undertake the project to the local authorities.”
Chow assured that no parts of the development will encroach into the island’s forest reserve which is expected to be gazetted soon.
Deputy tourism minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik had said that the ministry would be writing to Chow about the matter.
The National Heritage Depart-ment was applying for a Unesco World Heritage Site status for Pulau Jerejak, a former leper centre and a former penal colony, and the Sungai Buloh national leprosy control centre in Selangor.
Last year, the Sungai Buloh Settlement Council had asked that the 362ha Pulau Jerejak which used to be a leprosarium, a quarantine centre and a high-security prison, be turned into a Unesco World Heritage Site,
The group, which advocated the historical preservation of the Sungai Buloh leprosy settlement, has started an international petition with 36 signatures from organisations from over 15 countries to demand that all proposed developments on the small island be stopped.
In the three-page petition, the council listed the historical significance of the island when it was established as a settlement back in 1871.
The small island off Penang island was the oldest full-scale leprosy institution for 102 years starting from 1867.
It was also the quarantine station for immigrants who first arrived in Penang between 1877 to 1940. From 1948 until the early 1950s, it was turned into a detention camp for suspected communists.
The island was also known as “Alcatraz island” of Malaysia when it was converted into a high-security prison from 1969 to 1993.