Govt urged to intervene in golf project on protected mangrove land

(Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A green group has called for government intervention in the development of golf resorts said to be encroaching on a mangrove reserve and protected wetland in Gelang Patah, Johor.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) claimed the decision to build three golf courses on the protected mangrove land was unacceptable.

“There are already 15 golf resorts in this water-stressed state. Sungai Pulai may even be stripped of its Ramsar status if decisive action is not taken by the government to remedy this situation,” said Peka president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil in a statement today.

Peka is urging the federal and state government to look into the legality of the project, which was undertaken by a foreign company.

In October last year, a Google Earth image and a comparison with Sungai Pulai on the Johor National Parks website showed that the first golf project, estimated at RM2 billion, had been completed within the Ramsar site.

It is understood that the company involved in the project intends to build two more golf projects in the area.

The foreign company in question has repeatedly ignored FMT’s request for comments.

Earlier, FMT reported that a former Johor state executive councillor had denied knowledge of de-gazettement of part of the Sungai Pulai mangrove reserve and protected wetlands.

Sources close to FMT said if the protected land had yet to be de-gazetted, the golf course project could not have been carried out.

Sungai Pulai’s mangrove is protected as a forest reserve under the National Forestry Act 1984 and is managed as sustainable use forestry under the Johor Forestry Department.

Malaysia has been a signatory to the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands since 1995 and has seven sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites), which include the Sungai Pulai mangroves.

The Sungai Pulai issue comes on the heels of the Pulau Kukup controversy, in which another of the seven Ramsar site wetlands was de-gazetted as a national park to make way for commercial development.

FMT has contacted the water, land and natural resources ministry, Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian’s office, the Johor Forestry Department, the Johor Lands and Mines office, and Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Sahruddin Jamal but has yet to receive a response on the matter.