PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty has called on the Johor state government's to publicly disclose its reason for silently and suddenly degazetting the Pulau Kukup National Park, questioning the silence on such an important matter.
The state government had not provided any reasonable explanation for the de-gazetting of Pulau Kukup, even though the State Exco had made the decision as early as Sept 24, 2018, advisor N Surendran said.
"The area 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 added.
Surendran said the public needed to know the reason for the degazettement, who will profit from it, and whether the state intends to destroy the natural habitat and develop the area.
He also called on the Prime Minister and the Federal Government to urgently intervene and save Pulau Kukup.
"Even though land is a state matter, the Federal Government has adequate legal powers to intervene and protect any area which qualifies as a place of natural heritage," he said.
Surendran said the degazettement has shocked and disappointed the nation and tantamount to destruction of a site harbouring unparalleled ecological treasures.
"There is no conceivable reason why this should have been done."
"It is unacceptable and highly irresponsible to deprive an area of outstanding ecological and environmental value such as Pulau Kukup of its much-needed national park status," he said.
Concerns were sparked by a gazette dated Oct 25 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.
Pulau Kukup, located off the coast of Pontian, 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.