Pulau Jerejak will surely be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve, a state exco member assured.
State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh (DAP-Sungai Puyu) said the state government has finalised the paperwork but added that there was still some work to be done before the place could be gazetted.
“We also need to settle some ongoing legal issues but the island will surely be gazetted when everything is ready,” he said when asked to comment on queries by the Opposition on why the island had yet to be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve although the state assembly had approved the gazetting back in 2007.
Opposition Leader Datuk Jahara Hamid (BN-Telok Ayer Tawar) had told reporters earlier that the state assembly had then approved for 295ha within the 359ha island to be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve.
She said the then state Tourism and Environment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow had made the proposal for the gazetting and to create a state park on the island.
“The August House approved it when it was proposed on April 18, 2007 but in 2008, the state government changed hands and the current state government has yet to gazette the island.
“It is an insult to the state assembly as the Penang government has failed to do what the house had decided,” Jahara told a press conference on the sidelines of the current state assembly sitting.
She said Barisan Nasional was both curious and worried why the present state government had not gazetted the place.
“We do not want to lose this iconic island to rapid development going on in the state. Pulau Jerejak still retains 70% of its jungle. The gazette has to be done soon,” she added.
Muhamad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong) said the resort jointly owned by the Urban Development Authority and Penang Development Corporation on the island was located outside of the plot to be gazetted.
“We are raising this question as we have heard that the island is going to be developed by a third party. We are afraid that this can be another reason for the delay as they may be plans to enlarge the development area to include areas in the proposed forest reserve,” he said.
In reply, Phee said that the island would not be handed over to any third party for development.
He also said the whole island would be gazetted as a smoke-free zone. - The Star