JOHOR BARU: Pulau Kukup, one of the few remaining pristine wetlands in South-East Asia, may stop being a fully protected national park as the state government is said to be de-gazetting a law that gives it the status.
Concerns were sparked by a gazette dated Oct 25 that has 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.
According to sources, the decision was made by the state government in October to de-gazette Pulau Kukup National Park.
They added that a letter to that effect was sent to Johor State Secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani.
The sources also said Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian was expected to make an announcement on the matter.
Malaysian Nature Society vice-president Vincent Chow said he would be really upset with such a decision.
“We are surprised to hear this. There has been no consultation with the stakeholders on the matter, especially those who are dependent on the island such as fishermen.
“The area is the second largest mangrove island in the world but why is the state government not proud of it?” he said when contacted yesterday.
Chow also expressed concerns that the move to de-gazette the law might disrupt the ecology of the island and drive out many animals.
“If it is turned into a port or terminal, there will certainly be more pollution in the area,” he said.
State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the issue would be discussed with the Johor National Parks director and Osman, who is also the park chairman.
“We need to discuss Pulau Kukup before making any official statement,” he said but declined to comment further.
Pulau Kukup, located off the coast of Pontian, has been a national park since 1997 and mostly uninhabited. Renowned for its mangrove forests, 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.