GEORGE TOWN: A Penang government official said the former penal island of Jerejak will remain as “Pulau Jerejak” as gazetted, not “Queens Island” as spotted in a developer’s brochure recently.
State executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari said the state government has yet to receive any application related to a name change for the island.
Yesterday, a heritage activist showed product literature of a condominium project on the island, claiming it was “formerly known as Pulau Jerejak”, while the developments on the island had a “Queens” prefix.
“While it is okay for developers to name their projects whatever they wish, it is not right to rename the island as they wish as they would have to apply for a name change from the state government.
“Otherwise, it is not right and misleading,” he said when contacted.
Zairil said as the chairman of the geographical naming committee in Penang, all name changes must go through the state and must be gazetted to be recognised. He said his officers are now probing the issue.
In an immediate response, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow told FMT: “State government has not received any application, and even if there is, it will not be approved.
“Probably this is the imagination of the marketing team. Pulau Jerejak will remain Pulau Jerejak.”
Jerejak is a largely untouched island off Penang island’s eastern coast.
Jerejak, once known as “Malaysia’s Alcatraz”, housed the country’s main leprosy sanatorium in 1868. The sanatorium, which was one of the earliest in the country, was built using funds collected from Chinese businessmen in Penang.
Five leprosy camps were also built on the island.
The island was also once a quarantine centre for immigrants entering Malaya and later used as a prison location. The prison closed in the 1990s.
In 2004, a resort was built on the west coast facing Penang island. The resort closed in May 2016.
A shipyard on the east coast of Jerejak has been in existence since the 1970s.
For now, the state has approved a bridge linking Jerejak to Penang island, the building of 1,200 residential units, a theme park, a marina, four-star and five-star hotels, and a cycling track.