The ruins of dormitories and leper homes, old reservoirs and undergound chambers, places of worship, jail cells, even a courtroom add an eerie touch to the island’s natural greenery that should be preserved as a state treasure for Penang.
I am appalled and still cannot fathom how, between a federal agency (Uda) and a state agency (PDC), 80 acres (a huge chunk of the flat land) of this national/state treasure could land up with a private developer, Ideal Property (which paid just RM160m for a 49 per cent stake that was previously held by PDC).
Was there any public participation in this decision? Who were involved in the negotiations with Ideal at all stages? Was this matter tabled at the Penang State Assembly for debate?
Ideal Property is also hard at work with land reclamation at the stretch in front of Queensbay Mall for the Queens Waterfront project, directly across from Pulau Jerejak:
If it gets its way, Ideal plans to build a bridge to link Penang Island to Jerejak Island, where it wants to build 1,200 homes, luxury hotels and a theme park. (Why would anyone want to build a theme park on a natural treasure?)
On 21 January, a Penang Forum team and other concerned individuals visited the island and hiked for four hours around the place to find out what was at stake. These are a few of the photographs snapped along the way.
An underground chamber that was probably used to store water from the reservoir above:
The jungle trail appeared to be recently widened, perhaps by a small bulldozer?
An operating theatre or church…
… illegally altered to a temple:
Below is a memorial to a couple of Russian soldiers killed when their ship Zhemchug was sunk in a surprise dawn attack by the German cruiser Emden, which had crept into the Penang harbour in stealth on 28 October 1914. Their bodies were believed to have drifted to Pulau Jerejak and were initially buried by local fisherfolk:
Part of a prison complex:
The prison guardhouse:
Part of the picturesque Balqis trail connecting the eastern shore to the western coast of the island:
A couple of the many graves on the island:
A panoramic view of the northwestern coastline of Pulau Jerejak:
A couple of guards have already been posted at the now shuttered Tropical Island Resort. They said they work for “Q Islands”, which is a subsidiary of Ideal Property.
Save Pulau Jerejak! Keep it as part of The Commons that belongs to everyone.
Check out the full slideshow of 61 photos below: