Sungai Pulai golf course project: Your hands are not tied, lawyer tells Putrajaya

Sources say a golf course and hotel have encroached on a wetland and mangrove reserve in Sungai Pulai in Johor. (Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today hit out at Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar over his remarks that the government is unable to do anything about the golf course built on the Sungai Pulai forest reserve in Johor.

N Surendran, who is an adviser to Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), questioned how the Pakatan Harapan government’s hands were tied when both the state and federal governments were now under Pakatan Harapan.

“It’s not acceptable for the minister to do nothing and answer the public by saying, ‘what can we do?’

“It is irresponsible for the minister to tell the public, ‘it’s already done’,” he said in a series of tweets.

Surendran was responding to comments today by Xavier, who said Putrajaya can only express its dissatisfaction to the Johor state government over the purported de-gazettement of a mangrove forest reserve on which a golf course and hotel project is situated.

Xavier had said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was “well aware” of the situation.

He also said Mahathir had asked Putrajaya to look into the matter and find out what happened and how this was allowed.

Surendran urged Xavier to read the Federal Constitution, stating that the National Land Council can issue a binding directive to Johor.

He said that under the National Heritage Act 2005, Sungai Pulai could be declared a heritage site.

“You can remove the structures or at least take steps to ensure there is a halt to the destruction and no more golf courses are built,” he said.

Activists recently raised the alarm over the opening of the golf course and hotel project, which they claim is within the Sungai Pulai mangrove reserve in Gelang Patah, a famous riverine mangrove system.

Sources close to the issue told FMT that the project, which opened its doors to the public late last year and reportedly cost RM2 billion, encroached on the protected Sungai Pulai Ramsar wetland as well.

The foreign company involved in the project has repeatedly ignored requests for public comments after an FMT expose recently.