NGO to hold forum to highlight Pulau Jerejak's historical values

SITI NURSURAYA ALI

GEORGETOWN: In an effort to preserve the historical values of Pulau Jerejak, Penang Forum is organising #SaveJerejak forum to share vital historic and current information about the island with Penangites.


Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) Honorary Secretary Ben Wismen said the plan is to get the information out to as many Penangites as possible.


“We want them to know about the island, and we believe once they know the island’s past, they will care about its future,” he said at a press conference here, today.


Ben said Pulau Jerejak is an island waiting to be discovered.


Meanwhile, Michael Gibby, 69, from England said it is very likely that all those born in Penang has a connection with the island.


“Most migrants to Penang from 1877 to 1957 had to stop and be quarantined on the island before they were allowed to come onto the Penang Island, therefore, most if not all of the Chinese, Indians and even the Malays, may have relatives who were put there once. Some lived, some had died there,” he said.


Michael said it is important for the people in Penang to understand the history of the island and make decisions on future development plans on Pulau Jerejak.


“We (Non-Government Organisations) cannot dictate what the developers can do to the island but we can share details with the public especially the people of Penang about the important historical facts of the island, because they should have a say on Pulau Jerejak’s future,” he said.


Both Michael and Ben agrees that developers, whoever they may be, must take into consideration the histotic value and heritage of the island before development plans are finalised.


Located in the north east of Penang Island, Jerejak has significant historic values to the state. It was formerly the main leper asylum for The Straits Settlements (1868), Quarantine Station (1875) and penal colony (1969).


Jerejak was also home to Penang’s maximum security prison that was closed down in 1993.


Currently there has been talks about developing the island. With only 10 to 15 per cent of its 362 acres are flat and, most of the historical buildings are on these flat lands, the concern is whether the new development will take into account the values of these historic heritage of the state.


It was reported last year that the Penang government will gazette hundreds of acres of land at Pulau Jerejak as a forest reserve, while allowing redevelopment of only 80 acres land.


The redevelopment plan includes 1,200 units of residential developments over 80 acres, a marina, four- and five-star hotels, a theme park, an 11.5km round island cycling track and related infrastructure to promote tourism in the state.