GEORGE TOWN, Nov 10 — The Penang state government should reveal its full development plans for Pulau Jerejak, Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Teng Chang Yeow said today.
The Penang Gerakan chairman said the recent UDA Holdings Bhd’s announcement of plans to build residential units and a bridge to link the resort island were not the initial plans for the small island.
“The previous Barisan Nasional state had identified the whole back bone of the island to be gazetted as a forest reserve and only allowed the fringes of the island for development of eco-tourism,” he said.
He said the original plan was only to develop an eco-friendly resort and to keep the island as natural as possible so as not to affect the forest reserve.
“Even then, UDA had wanted to build residential buildings and we had rejected their application because we wanted to keep the island car-free and free from other pollution,” he said.
Two days ago, UDA Holdings announced in a statement that it had entered into a joint-venture agreement with Q Islands Development Sdn Bhd to redevelop Jerejak Rainforest Resort and Spa.
They also planned to build a mixed development project on the 32.3ha (80 acres) of land surrounding the resort that will include 1,200 residential units, a theme park, a marina, hotels and a cycling track.
According to UDA Holdings, the Penang state government had already approved redevelopment master plan and that work is expected to start in late 2017.
Teng said the construction of a bridge will only mean cars will be going into the island that will cause noise and air pollution and affect the pristine forests on the island.
He also questioned the Penang state government in the delay of gazetting the forest reserve on the island that covers 295ha.
Back in 2007, the state legislative assembly passed an enactment for 80 per cent of Pulau Jerejak to be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve.
“Till today, the current state government has not gazetted the forest reserve, why are they delaying it? Is the delay caused by any plan to redevelop Pulau Jerejak?” he asked.
Teng had also pointed out that initially, Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and UDA Holdings set up a joint-venture company, Tropical Island Resort Sdn Bhd, with a 49:51 share to develop the island.
“Now UDA had announced that it is taking over 100 per cent of the share so we want to know what happened to the 49 stakes held by PDC,” he said.
Later, when asked to respond, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Teng should be asking UDA for the details of the project.
“UDA is under the federal government, he is part of the federal government, why don’t he ask the federal government?” Lim said in a brief press conference.
He said the island will remain car-free despite a residential project and the bridge that was planned for it.
“There are other modes of transport like buggies and electric motorbikes so it will remain car-free,” he told reporters at the PDC Deepavali celebration today.
He confirmed that PDC sold off its stake in Tropical Island Resort to UDA and that it was a government-to-government agreement between the Penang state government and UDA Holdings.
“We definitely made back a lot more by selling it to them, we will announce the figure in a statement tomorrow,” he said.
As for the permanent forest reserve, Lim said it will be gazetted once the whole agreement with UDA is settled.
“We will gazette it once everything else is settled,” he said.