Malaysia: No plans for change in status of Ramsar sites

New Straits Times 28 Mar 14;

VALUABLE WETLANDS: Fears of Kukup Island and Tanjung Piai being de-gazetted has been allayed by the state government

JOHOR BARU: THE State Government has given its assurance that there is no plan to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites -- at Kukup Island and Tanjung Piai -- which were gazetted in 2003.

In fact, it is expediting the process to gazette the third Ramsar site at Sungai Pulai to enable the future generations to inherit this natural heritage.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat gave his assurance to environmentalists who have been helping and supporting the state government to preserve these natural treasures.

"I would like to stress that the state government is committed to environmental preservation. There are no plans to de-gazette the two existing Ramsar sites," he said.

It was reported the state government planned to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites on its own initiative, and was in its final discussion to carry out the de-gazetting exercise which would involve environmental bodies such as the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The WWF, however, said the state government had never discussed nor raised the matter with WWF. It urged the state government to continue to protect the existing Ramsar sites and ensure their status as Ramsar sites were retained.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Nature Society (Johor branch) adviser Vincent Chow said the Sungai Pulai wetlands was registered as 1288 by the Ramsar Convention. It was the duty of the state government to ensure that the site was intact.

"I am glad there are no plans to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites.

"I am also happy to note the state government is gazetting the Sungai Pulai wetlands as a Ramsar site.

"The Sungai Pulai wetlands support the livelihood of 38 villages. If the site is degraded or destroyed, their lives will be affected.

"MNS trusts that the state government will look after these important wetlands and the interest of the future generation," he said.