"Being a pure Penangite for almost 20 years, I have to admit that that was the first time I stepped onto an island opposite Queensbay Mall named Pulau Jerejak which the history of the Jerejak Island can be found here. So, it happened on last Saturday when my friends and I had our adventurous outing in Jerejak Island. The adventurous outing was started at around eleven something in the morning as I woke up late as an organizer unintentionally for 8:30AM ferry then all of us missed the 9:45AM ferry again because we went out for our breakfast nearby."
Arrival at the resort on Pulau Jerejak
The name Pulau Jerejak, was
given by fisherman who lived on the island. Long before it gained its alias as
the Alcatraz of Malaysia, because of the Jerejak Prison. This 362ha island is
located between the Penang Main Island and Seberang Prai. It's an island rich
with history, flora and fauna.
This island though not as famous compared to other islands in Malaysia,
has had its fair share of auspicious historical events. Francis Light,
Founder of Penang was said to have arrives in Pula Jerejak in early 1786
before heading on to Penang.
Jerejak made it's debut in colonial records when colonel Arthur Wellesly
of Wellington, England, proposed that the island act as an alternative
naval base to Fort Cornwallis in 1797. The military post in Jerejak was
suppose to provide protection for the new town opposite Jerejak, which
was to be called Jamestown, now known as Bayan Lepas.
However a sudden outbreak of Malaria caused for a delay in plans. It is
believed that the outbreak was a result of clearing the jungle. It was
during this time that George Town emerged as a profitable port. Thus the
turn Jerejak into a naval base was aborted.
In order to stimulate the growth of Penang, Francis Light allowed
immigrants to claim whatever they could clear thus causing Penang to be
flooded with immigrants. As a precaution, these immigrants were first
sent to Jerejak for health inspection. In the year 1910, Jerejak was
made a health quarantine centre for immigrants planning to go to the
main island. After passing the health check, they were sent to Penang to
work. Later in the late 1930's, the British Empire built a hospital for
patients with Tuberculosis that could house 150 patients at one time.
This was located at the eastern part of the island.
The Russian Cemetery Jerejak saw military action during the World War II, when a German
submarine attacked a Russian naval vessel. It is believed that Jerejak
was the site for a German submarine base from June 1943 to March 1944.
In the book entitled History of the USA Naval Operations in World War
Two, S.E. Morison wrote that German U-boats sunk about 18 ships in the
Indian Ocean. A ceremonial cemetery dedicated to the Russian soldiers
still remains on the island, where however, no records indicate that
actual bodies were buried at that site.
A Penal Colony
The Jerejak Rehabilitation Centre began operating from 12 June 1969 to
August 1993 with its batch of inmates. This first batch consisted
of those detained during the 13th May 1969 race riots.
In it's one and only internal riot incident in 1981, The Jerejak
Rehabilitation Centre was rampaged when about 100 inmates rioted in the
prison, destroying several buildings. The riot was caused by
dissatisfaction over decision to lengthen the service period of inmates.
The following years, saw an
upsurge in drug related convictions that resulted in the highest number of
detainees in Jerejak, 982 to be exact.
As a security measure, fisherman from nearby island were given strict
instructions to keep a distance of 200 metres from the beach area of Jerejak.
However, 7 inmates still managed to plan a getaway. The escapees were inmates
who worked outside the prison area and were nearly finishing their sentences.
The first escape incident in January 1988, saw 4 inmates 'leaving' the island
while the second incident in May 1988 saw 3 inmates flee. The exact escape
routes of these inmates still remains a mystery.
In it's course of closing down the
prison, 900 detainees were transferred to prisons in Johor. The first transfer
involved 100 detainees whom were sent to Muar Prison, Johor. The following
transfers were in groups of about 60 detainees and were all stationed at the
Simpang Ranggam Prison, Johor.
The last group left on 13 August 1993.
The Jerejak Rehabilitation Centre
Nowadays there's a
beautiful resort on the island. It's called "Jerejak Resort & Spa".
It's very quiet and you can relax all day. In the daytime you can go
visit the main island of Penang or you can do outdoor activities on
Jerejak. In the evening you can't do much on Pulau Jerejak, because
there a no roads or villages. There's just the resort. All that's left
is the the island of Penang.
In the daytime adventure village of the resort is where you go for outdoor action on Pulau
Jerejak. Take it to the limits with abseiling, rock climbing, mountain
biking or take to nature with fishing, jungle trekking or camping under
the stars. The recreational facilities such as rock and wall climbing,
low ropes obstacles and archery are ideally situated next to the
Adventure Village for easy access.
Children Summer Camp
Nature & Historical
LOW ELEMENT ACTIVITIES:
Rock / Wall Climbing
Abseiling / Rappelling
Guided Jungle Trekking
Mountain Biking Trails
Paint Ball War Games
Beach Soccer / Volleyball
FLORA of JEREJAK
Jerejak, an island covered with thick coastal forest ageing
approximately 4,000 years hosts about 210 species and 71 families of
plants. Many types of plant communities can be found here, the main ones
are Dipterocarp, Mangrove, Revine Coastel and Weedy species. Dipterocarp is a timber species found on hilly areas of the
island. It usually forms a high proportion of emergent and main canopy
strata of the forest. A dipterocarp forest is richly diversified and
contains timber such as Meranti (Shorea spp.), Mersawa (Anisoptera spp.)
and Keruing (Dipterocarpus ssp.) which are highly priced.
There are also Mangrove Swamps in the area. The largest is
located near the prison building at the north side of the island. The
mangrove swamps are named so because of the mangrove trees, which
dominate these wetlands. These trees are tolerant of brackish water and
saltier coastal conditions an they are usually surrounded by watery
wilderness. This area also provides habitat and breeding ground to
organisms such as crabs and jellyfish.
The coastal plant community also inhabits the Jerejak tropical
forest. It acts as a barrier between an interior plant community and an
exposed beach. These coastal plant species are closely related to the
soil texture and effect from the breeze. Among the forest seedlings are
Mengkunyit and Bintagor.
Beside the highly priced timber, another plant with commercial value in
the Jerejak forest is Eurycoma Longifolia or commonly known as Tongkat Ali. Tongkat
Ali is a medical plant which increases strength and energy.
FAUNA of JEREJAK
Besides the wide range of flora available on the island, there are also
a variety of fauna species on Jerejak. Among the 39 animal species here
are White Bellied Sea Eagles. Monitor Lizards an Long Tailed Macaques. The White Bellied Sea Eagle, also known as Haliaectus Leucogaster
is black in colour and white spot underneath, thus the name white
bellied. It's major resting site is at the southern tip of the island.
This is an ideal place for bird watching as this is also the perching
area for many other bird species.
You can rest assured that there are no endangered species on the island.
However, quite a number of animals here are protected under the Malaysia
Wildlife Act 1972. Based on the study done by USM on the Flora and Fauna
of Jerejak, the birds recorded during research were all protected under
the act. The Long Tailed Macaque also inhabits Pulau Jerejak. They have
long arms and short legs. They are usually born with black fur but
eventually turn a yellowish greenish, reddish brownish shade as they
Long tailed macaques are diurnal (active during the day) and arboreal
(tree-living) animals. They live in multi male and multi female groups.
They tends to sleep on tree branches, so when you get into the jungle,
look up and try to spot any of them 'hanging out'.
Among the reptiles that live on the island are the monitor lizard
and mangrove snakes. The monitor lizards are tropical reptiles. They do not divest
themselves of their tails, like some other lizards. Once lost, the tail
will not grow back. Monitor lizards swallow their prey whole. They are
daytime lizards and actively search for food. They eat snails,
grasshoppers, beetles, birds' eggs, crabs, fish and nestling birds.
Among other animals that live around the mangrove area are the
mangrove snakes. They can usually be seen basking on brakish water
environments thus the name mangrove. They often hang over branches or
banks and will drop into the water as an escape route at the slightest
provocation. They will however, bite savagely if cornered or caught.
Another species of reptiles that inhabits the island is the reticulated
There are not many exotic fish in the Jerejak Sea. However, common fish
such as Kerupa and Kembong inhabits it. Fish like Kerupa and Kembong are
popular among fisherman nearby the island, as these fish are the types
most commonly eaten by Malaysians.
Another common fish species that we often hear of is the jelly fish.
Jellyfish are eating animal that float in the sea. Their body is soft
and long with stinging poisonous tentacles that they usually use to
catch fish. Venom is sent through stinging cell called nematocysts.