GROUND BREAKING CUM MANGROVE TREE PLANTING CEREMONY OF SUNGAI PULAI WELLNESS RESORT

 SPEECH BY

YAB DATO’ MOHAMED KHALED NORDIN

MENTERI BESAR JOHOR

GROUND BREAKING CUM MANGROVE 

TREE PLANTING CEREMONY OF 

SUNGAI PULAI WELLNESS RESORT

AT MUKIM JERAM BATU, PONTIAN

ON SUNDAY, 11 JANUARY 2015

AT 12.30 P.M.

 

 

 

YB Datuk Haji Abd Latif bin Haji Bandi,

Housing and Local Government, Johor State Executive Council.

 

YB Datuk Ir. Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohamad,

Works, Rural and Regional Development, Johor State Executive Council.

 

YB Datuk Tee Siew Kiong,

Tourism, Trade and Consumer Affair, Johor State Executive Council.

 

YB Datuk Haji Ayub bin Haji Rahmat,

Health and Environment, Johor State Executive Council.

YB Dr. Zaini bin Abu Bakar

Nusajaya Members of The Legislative Assembly

 

YB Haji Kamarudin bin Abdullah

District Officer of Pontian

 

YB Encik Mohd Ridza bin Awang

Director of Johor State Forestry Department

 

YB Encik Abdullah bin Yusuf

Chief Executive Officer, 

Dimensi Panorama Sdn Bhd

 

YB Tuan Haji Amir Sarifuddin bin Raub

Chief Executive Officer, 

Dimensi Panorama Sdn Bhd

 

Distinguished guests,

 

Members of the media,

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

1. Assalamualaikum and a very good morning to all present. First and foremost my heartiest congratulations to Dimensi Panorama, a member of MB Group on this momentous occasion. I am pleased to be standing here today to celebrate this ground-breaking ceremony of Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort.

 

2. As everyone here is aware, this site is one of the most treasured assets to the State. It is well a known fact that Malaysia has one of the most beautiful and unique natural landscapes and thriving ecosystems in the world. As we continue to develop and progress as a nation, it is important for us to preserve and manage these natural resources to ensure that we can continue to enjoy its beauty and magnificence for centuries to come.

 

3. Due to its tropical location and long coastline, Malaysia is home to an extensive area of wetlands. There are about 105 listed wetland sites in the Malaysian Wetland Directory, including mangroves and mudflats, river systems and tropical peat swamp forests. 

 

4. The importance of Johor’s wetlands was internationally recognised by the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar listing consists of important wetlands around the world, that come under the Convention, which champions conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. I would like to emphasize that the Ramsar sites are declared as Wetlands of International Importance, to ensure that its ecological character is maintained. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

(Preservation of Ramsar sites)

 

5. The Sungai Pulai Wetlands is the third Ramsar Site in Iskandar Malaysia after Pulau Kukup and Tanjung Piai. The Sungai Pulai Ramsar site covers approximately 9,126 hectare which makes it the biggest mangrove forest in Johor. These wetlands are sanctuaries for marine creatures such as seahorses and dugongs; it is also a breeding ground for many marine species as these wetlands are well-sheltered from erosion and waves.

 

6. The Ramsar Site places Iskandar Malaysia in a unique position in the eyes of the world, not only by providing invaluable ecosystem but also as a great opportunity for the cultivation of eco-tourism and leisure activities, focusing on wellness.

 

7. The Ramsar Convention Bureau also adopted the Concept of Sustainable Utilization (Wise Use Concept) of these areas, which allow activities to be carried out in the area, but they must make sure that the sustainability of the area is being preserved. 

 

8. In the 2015 budget which was tabled in November last year, I have stressed the importance of preserving the Ramsar sites as one of the key elements of tourism for the State of Johor. Hence the State Government has frozen all activities pertaining to logging and exploitation of the area. This is so that conservation and preservation of this area are being maintained to ensure unplanned development will not occur. One of the key concerns of the state government is to preserve the natural heritage of the country’s wetlands. 

 

9. Further, the State Government via the Forestry Department has a long-term conservation development plans together with IRDA and Khazanah Nasional Berhad which aims at preserving the status of the area as a Ramsar site which includes replanting of the unique species of mangrove and coastal erosion conservation. 

 

10. As such, we will not allow any major developments to spoil this natural beauty. The State will continue to preserve its biodiversity and will continue to emphasize the importance to balance environmental preservations and economic concerns are given full attention and regulations were adhered to. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

(Ecotourism, Local Economic Well-being and Attitudes)

 

11. Ecotourism supports environmental conservation as well as generating economic opportunities. It strongly emphasizes benefits to the local community with the emphasis that the involvement of the residents is important for the effective management of tourism. I am happy that, in a time when words like “eco-tourism”, “sustainability” and “green” are being used liberally and often carelessly, MB Group has risen to the challenge of developing a world-class wellness resort, set amidst one of Johor’s most precious natural treasures, which is indeed a well applauded initiative. It is also my hope that with the launch of this Resort, it will provide the impetus for the local community economic well-being.

 

12. It is important to stress this point because the residents’ environmental knowledge will positively affect attitudes towards eco-tourism. This in turn directly and indirectly determine the willingness of local community to support and participate in ecotourism activities through their individual landscape affinity. Therefore, residents’ involvement in eco-tourism of the Ramsar sites may be stimulated through appropriate management strategies aimed at increasing their environmental knowledge, encouraging positive ecotourism attitudes, and environmental planning that promotes residents’ affinity for local attractions. This will also be in line with the State Government aspirations in providing economic opportunity and wealth creation for the Johor community under the Suara Hati Johor. 

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

(Increase in Tourists)

 

13. Iskandar Malaysia, Johor Bahru’s mega-corridor, is transforming Johor into an international metropolis. Touted to become another “Hong Kong-Shenzen” in the near future, the cost advantage and added tax incentives have successfully lured investors since the beginning, and continues to do so.

 

14. On 6th of June 2014, the state government unveiled a nine-year tourism master plan that endeavours to transform the state into a high-value tourist destination. The master plan was developed based on the strengths of Johor as a tourist destination, focusing on 11 clusters including heritage, lifestyle and shopping. 

 

15. It is my hope that this comprehensive Tourism Master Plan will help propel the state’s tourism industry to the next level. With the several efforts being made to revive and elevate the infrastructure, facilities and tourism offerings within the state, we hope to attract more high-impact tourism, increasing tourist arrivals from 2.9 million in 2013 to 4.5 million in 2015.

 

16. The development of Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort certainly comes at an opportune time. It will help to capitalise on the state’s natural resources and position Johor, as a preferred tourism destination within the country and the surrounding region.

 

17. I have been made to understand that Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort is one of its kind in Malaysia. Together with the rapid economic development in Iskandar Malaysia, Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort will significantly support the State and the Government’s mission of preserving the natural heritage of the wetlands. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

18. On that note, I would like to thank MB Group and Dimensi Panorama for inviting me to officiate this groundbreaking of the Sungai Pulai Wellness Resort.

 

19. I wish you every success in developing this resort into a world-class wellness destination and positioning Iskandar Malaysia as a “must visit” regional eco-tourism hotspot. 

 

With this, I thank you.   

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