By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The status of Pulau Kukup Sultanate land should be reverted to its original protected national park status as it could be better managed, said former Johor Mentri Besar (MB) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Muhyiddin also said he will appeal to the Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, to retain the status of Pulau Kukup as a national park.
“I would rather appeal to the Sultan to let it go back to what it was supposed to be before,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
The Pagoh MP pointed out that there is a difference between the status of a national park and Sultanate land.
“Degazetting and transferring the national park into sultanate land is changing the ownership,” Muhyiddin said, adding that he was “angry” when he found out about the land degazettement.
Muhyiddin said Pulau Kukup is one of the largest mangrove islands in the country and it should be preserved as a national park.
Apart from Pulau Kukup, there are five other national parks in Johor including Endau-Rompin Peta, Endau-Rompin Selai, Tanjung Piai, Gunung Ledang and Sultan Iskandar Marine Park.
The initiative to protect Johor’s national park was made during Muhyiddin’s tenure via the National Park Environment Enactment (Johor) 1989.
“When it was enacted, all islands and mountains in the state were gazetted as national parks, including Pulau Kukup.
“Why do we need to do that? Because we want to make sure they remain as national parks for as long as there is a sun and a moon,” Muhyiddin said further.
“Subsequently, Johor Land Corp was set up to manage national parks in the state and this has been in place since 1997 to ensure the parks will remain forever,” he added.
Pulau Kukup is the second-largest uninhabited mangrove island in the world and is listed as a “wetland of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention 1971.
The status of Pulau Kukup became a contentious issue after it was reported that the Johor government had degazetted its status as a national park in October to a Sultanate land.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced the federal government’s hope for the land to remain as a national park.
Dr Mahathir’s statement was made following Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim’s remarks that the island should be placed as Sultanate land for better protection.
“This does not change the status, policies and usage of the park where it continues to remain a national park status,” the prince said on his Twitter account.
On Sunday, Johor MB Datuk Osman Sapian “vowed” to ensure that Pulau Kukup is preserved and maintained as a national park, even though it is now legally classified as Sultanate land.
Osman said Sultan Ibrahim had “consented” for Pulau Kukup’s status to be maintained as a national park in practice, if not in legal terms.