Putrajaya told to intervene to stop more golf courses on Johor mangrove reserve

The wetland and mangrove reserve in Sungai Pulai, Johor. (Facebook pic)

RANTAU: A Johor MP has urged authorities to stop the construction of two more golf courses on a mangrove reserve in the state, following the recent revelation that a golf resort which opened its doors last year is built on Ramsar-listed wetlands.

“Why was 800 hectares of reserve land in Sungai Pulai converted into a golf course?” asked Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim, who recently raised the issue of the purported de-gazettement of the area in the Dewan Rakyat.

He said Putrajaya is duty-bound to act even though land matters come under state jurisdiction.

“This is a very bad precedent. The federal government cannot allow this to happen anymore,” Hassan told FMT last night when met on the sidelines of a Pakatan Harapan by-election campaign programme here.

Sungai Pulai is a protected riverine mangrove system, listed by the Ramsar Convention 1971.

Environmentalists say its 9,216 hectares of mangroves bring socioeconomic balance to fishing communities and aid in shoreline protection and flood prevention.

A RM2 billion golf course and hotel which began operations there last year is said to be encroaching into the Sungai Pulai mangrove reserve as well.

Hassan Karim.

Hassan, whose constituency is about 55km away from Sungai Pulai near Iskandar Puteri, said there is no need to demolish the existing golf course as the damage has been done.

“In the future, laws must be stricter and the state authorities must be more firm and carry out the policies they already formulated. Otherwise, why have such laws?”

He said the state government must also be firm in protecting its environmental heritage.

“Whether the federal government can have a say on this is another thing, but the state must be firm.”

It is understood that an environmental impact assessment for the resort was approved by the Department of Environment on Oct 2, 2017, but construction work on the golf course started some three months earlier, as listed on the company’s website.

A comparison of Sungai Pulai on the Johor National Parks’ website and on Google Earth, which was last updated on Oct 2, 2018, shows that the golf course and hotel are located within the Ramsar site.

Putrajaya has said it is investigating the matter, while former state officials gave no clear answer as to who approved the de-gazettement in the first place.

Environmentalists have urged Putrajaya to intervene to stop further destruction of Sungai Pulai.