Lawyers group slams Johor over island’s loss of national park status

Pulau Kukus is the world’s second largest uninhabited mangrove island. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyers group has hit out at the Johor government over reports that the state exco revoked the status of a mangrove island as a national park through a gazette notification dated Oct 25.

Calling the news shocking and disappointing, Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran said the revocation of Pulau Kukup’s national park status was tantamount to the destruction of a site “harbouring unparalleled ecological treasures”.

In a statement, Surendran said Pulau Kukup was the world’s second largest uninhabited mangrove island and listed as a “wetland of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention 1971.

“The island also supports various threatened species of animals, and is categorised as an important bird area,” he added.

Noting that the Johor government had so far provided no reasonable explanation for the move, he said the area was gazetted as a national park in 1997 by the state administration which was under Barisan Nasional (BN) at the time.

“By de-gazetting, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government is proving that they are even worse than BN in terms of environmental preservation and protection,” he said.

“Having long criticised BN for greedy environmental destruction, it is simply inexcusable for a PH state government to be doing such a thing.”

He urged Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian and the state exco to immediately reveal to the public why the area had been de-gazetted as a national park.

He also called on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the federal government to intervene in the matter.

“The PH federal government cannot simply stand by and watch an internationally recognised natural treasure of Malaysia be compromised or destroyed; the de-gazetting reflects ill upon PH as a whole.

“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.”