Pu­lau Kukup to re­main a trea­sure

Govt: It should stay on as a na­tional park

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By VENESA DEVI news­[email protected]­tar.com.my

JO­HOR BARU: The fed­eral gov­ern­ment wants Pu­lau Kukup to re­main as a na­tional park af­ter its degazette­ment by Jo­hor last week sparked pub­lic out­cry and a move by the Men­tri Be­sar to ex­plain it to­day.

Wa­ter, Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Dr Xavier Jayaku­mar said this was the de­ci­sion made dur­ing the Cab­i­net meet­ing on Fri­day.

He said the move to change Pu­lau Kukup’s sta­tus from that of na­tional park to Sul­tanate land might af­fect Malaysia’s rep­u­ta­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally in pre­serv­ing bio­di­ver­sity.

“The change in sta­tus of Pu­lau Kukup will def­i­nitely have an ef­fect on its recog­ni­tion as an area of in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est as well as Malaysia’s rep­u­ta­tion as a coun­try which takes care of bio­di­ver­sity.

“The pub­lic also gen­er­ally sup­ports the idea of main­tain­ing the na­tional park sta­tus of the is­land as this will bet­ter en­sure the ecosys­tem of the area for its in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” he said in a state­ment here yes­ter­day.

On Thurs­day, Tunku Mahkota Jo­hor Tunku Is­mail Ibni Sul­tan Ibrahim had tweeted a let­ter from the of­fice of the Jo­hor Sul­tan’s Pri­vate Sec­re­tary to the state Land and Mines Of­fice that made clear Pu­lau Kukup’s sta­tus as a na­tional park.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, Pu­lau Kukup, the world’s se­cond largest un­in­hab­ited man­grove area, will re­main a na­tional park de­spite its sta­tus be­ing changed to Sul­tanate land.

Jo­hor Men­tri Be­sar Datuk Os­man Sapian is ex­pected to an­swer his crit­ics on the fi­nal day of the state assem­bly meet­ing to­day.

The is­land, said Dr Xavier, had over 18 species of man­groves, with an ecosys­tem that could rarely be found and was un­der the threat of ex­tinc­tion.

“Pu­lau Kukup has been iden­ti­fied as a stop for mi­gra­tory birds and shel­ter as well as a breed­ing place for threat­ened an­i­mals such as bu­rung bo­tak (storks), ban­gau cina (Chi­nese egret) and pacat bakau (man­grove pitta).

“It is also a re­source for fish and aqua­cul­ture. It is home to an in­valu­able bio­di­ver­sity trea­sure for the coun­try as well as for the state of Jo­hor and any fail­ure in man­ag­ing the area can lead us to lose these trea­sures for good,” he said, adding that such a move might also af­fect ef­forts to ac­knowl­edge Mers­ing as a na­tional geop­ark.

Malaysian Na­ture So­ci­ety vice-pres­i­dent Vin­cent Chow said the pri­or­ity was to en­sure that the wet­lands would con­tinue to be pro­tected – be it as a na­tional park or a Sul­tanate land.

“We want to sup­port the move of mak­ing Pu­lau Kukup a Sul­tanate land whole­heart­edly, but how would we know if it is some­thing worth sup­port­ing if the state gov­ern­ment does not ex­plain to us what it ac­tu­ally means?

“The state gov­ern­ment needs to let Jo­hore­ans know how the change will im­pact Pu­lau Kukup, in­clud­ing if it will re­tain its po­si­tion as a Ram­sar site,” he added.

Ram­sar sites are wet­land sites des­ig­nated to be of in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance un­der the Ram­sar con­ven­tion, a UN en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty.

Con­cerns were raised on so­cial me­dia that the state au­thor­i­ties would can­cel the whole area as a na­tional park un­der sub­sec­tion 3(3) of the Na­tional Park En­vi­ron­ment En­act­ment (Jo­hor) 1989.

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