Don’t believe the hype; officials say the Ramsar wetlands sites won’t become home to a new Formula 1 circuit or a casino anytime soon.
Under the current Malaysian gambling laws, the country has just one brick-and-mortar casino, so rumors that a new gambling venue and a Formula 1 circuit were going to be built in the Ramsar wetlands have caused quite a lot of controversy.
According to recent gambling news, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the rumors were unfounded. The state never had such plans, he said, adding: “I don’t know where the Skudai assemblyman received such information as it was never listed in the state government’s development plans.”
Johor is home to the three mangrove sites – the highest number of Ramsar sites in Malaysia – located in Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjung Piai. Despite being protected areas, they are under threat from erosion and pollution.
The Johor Baru City Council is now trying to stop a developer from completing a project in the waters off Senibong, near the city centre. The council has taken legal action against the company, with the first court appearance scheduled for December 3.
“There are some who came up with assumptions and accusations, saying that the state budget would only benefit companies and developers who are cronies. I have only one answer for them. Our administration will not entertain those who are senseless and irrational,” Khaled said.