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Dr M rebuts Johor prince, says federal govt not an ‘outsider’

This article is more than 12 months old

PUTRAJAYA: The federal government is not an "outsider", said Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a rebuttal to Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim's remarks over the Pulau Kukup issue.

"Malaysians are not outsiders. The federal government is not an outsider. We are responsible for all things in the country," Dr Mahathir said, after attending an event yesterday.

Tunku Ismail, in responding to a statement by federal Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar on the status of Pulau Kukup, had said as "an outsider, you don't need to meddle on matters related to Johor".

Tunku Ismail said only the Johor Sultan had jurisdiction to override the state Constitution.

Pulau Kukup, located in the Strait of Malacca in south Johor, had been a national park since 1997 and is mostly uninhabited.

Malaysians were surprised when it was recently revealed that the Johor state government, under Pakatan Harapan, had quietly degazetted the island to make it "sultanate land" of Johor.

Pulau Kukup is known as the world's second largest uninhabited mangrove island.

Dr Xavier issued a statement last week saying the island should continue to be managed by the state government.

The island, he said, has more than 18 species of mangroves, with a unique ecosystem under the threat of extinction.

Non-governmental organisation, Lawyers for Liberty, asked why the stripping of national park status was done "silently", without any public announcement, until the gazette was leaked online.

Tunku Ismail had said earlier the Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, is of the view that all national parks should be changed to sultanate land for better protection and preservation.

In response to Dr Xavier's statement, the Prince wrote on his Facebook account on Sunday: "As an outsider, you don't need to meddle on matters related to Johor..."

The Malaysian Cabinet decided last week that Pulau Kukup should remain in the hands of the state government.

Dr Mahathir told a news conference yesterday that he hopes the Johor state government will accept the federal government's decision to not pass the management of the island to the Johor sultanate.

"That is the stance of federal government. I hope Johor will accept. Pulau Kukup should not be developed. It should remain as a forest reserve particularly as it is a special mangrove forest.

"We don't want the mangrove forest to be cut down in order to develop the island," said Dr Mahathir. - THE STAR

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