During my three-day political visit of Tawau, Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan last week together with DAP Pahang State Assemblyman Leong Ngah Ngah and DAP Sarawak Assemblywoman for Pending, Violet Yong, one of my consistent themes was calling for support for the tourist-promotion initiative of former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister/Minister for Tourism Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat (and which is bruited as one of the two main reasons for his shock resignation) – the world’s tallest Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) statue project in Kudat.
I am glad that there is growing public support for the project in Sabah as illustrated by the Sabah Daily Express report “CM urged to reconsider” which is reproduced below.
I had intended to meet up with the Federal Minister for Tourism Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor next week during the resumed meeting of Parliament to urge him to support the world’s tallest Mazu project, which will not only be a triple bonus to the tourism promotion campaign for Kudat, Sabah and Malaysia but will also be a symbol of the “Instant Asia” publicity which Malaysia is promoting worlwide.
There would be no need for me to meet up with Tengku Adnan if the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman and the State Cabinet announce their support for the Mazu project in Kudat, especially as land and public donations exceeding RM5 million for the Kudat Mazu project have been pledged, and parts for the construction of the 108-ft 10-storey-high Mazu statue are being shipped to Sabah.
What is the stand of Musa on the Kudat Mazu project?
Is the world’s tallest Mazu project on the agenda of the Sabah State Cabinet at its next meeting, and if not, is there any Sabah State Minister who is prepared to make a public pledge to raise it at the next Cabinet meeting?
CM urged to reconsider
Daily Express Sabah
Kota Kinabalu: Several Chinese associations in the State as well as the Sabah United Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SUCCC) have come out in support of the proposed world’s tallest Mazu (Chinese Goddess of the Sea) statue in Kudat.
The 10-storey high statue was already approved and was in the process of completion until ordered to stop by the local authority.
They said the structure also complements Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi’s Islamic Hadhari (civilisational Islam) concept of respect and tolerance for other faiths and which Malaysia upholds.
SUCCC President Datuk Seri Sari Tan said the project is good for Malaysia’s multi-racial and religious image and that those against it are the ones who are being insensitive towards others.
“I can assure that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was never against the construction of the statue.
“The CM never objected to it although rumours are circulating that he was against it and former Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong (Kah Kiat) resigned because of that.
“Those against it are a few narrow-minded people. They should stop objecting for the sake of objecting and think of the damage it can cause to Malaysia’s international image.
“They should also think of the good it would do for tourism in a place like Kudat which not that many people go to,” he said.
He said Musa is always known to be magnanimous and would surely not allow the persuasion of a few to override the legitimate interests of another community.
“I am sure he will clear the air once and for all,” he said, adding that it is better that the matter is resolved now and fast rather than be used as ammunition by the opposition during the coming elections.
“There is no need to wait for the opposition to enter the fray, more so when work on the project had actually long started.”
Sari was responding to the statement by DAP Adviser Lim Kit Siang, who is also opposition Parliament leader, who said he plans to meet Federal Tourism Minister Tengku Datuk Mansor Adnan over the shelved project.
Lim had said the project should be supported by the Federal Government because it would be economically good for Sabah and Malaysia by enhancing the nation’s tourism competitiveness.
Lim also said the project was consistent with Malaysia’s “Truly Asia” image as a tolerant and harmonious society.
President of the Sabah Taoist Association, Wong Kok Leong, said his Association supports the idea of meeting Federal Tourism Minister Tengku Datuk Mansor Adnan over the shelved project for the nation’s larger interests.
However, he stressed that his association’s view should not be misconstrued as a show of support for DAP.
“I am a supporter of the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government and I am speaking purely from the tourism promotion perspective. The statue project would definitely benefit the tourism industry, in particular,” he said.
Wong said the people of Sabah, particularly the Chinese, would be eternally grateful to Musa as well as Sabah BN and the Federal Government if the project is allowed to continue.
“Having said this, it is clear that approval would depend on the Government, particularly Musa (since it is purely a State matter).”
He also said he appreciates Chong’s persistent efforts to promote Sabah to the outside world.
President of the United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu, Datuk Lau Kok Sing is confident that Tengku Datuk Mansor would be able to persuade the Sabah BN Government under Musa to allow the project to continue.
Managing Director of Popular Express Travel, Dewi Chen said: “As tour operators, we support the statue project because we are talking in terms of selling a new tourism product in Sabah.
“We consider this a good product to sell to overseas travel markets. It’s nothing Taoist, nothing political, but purely a tourist attraction. Like the Petronas Twin Towers, it’s straightforward and down-to-earth.
“We will not hesitate to support if there is a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian project that also helps our tourism as a whole.”
Chen believed the statue would be another selling point for Kudat as a tourist destination, in addition to its now famous Tip of Borneo.
Based on Chinese belief, she said the Mazu faces the sea because it is meant to protect marine life, sea travellers and people who make a living from the sea such as fishermen.
According to her, Macau has a Mazu statue which draws millions of tourists unlike 20 years ago when it was not a well-known tourist destination.
“I therefore hope the Federal Government will consider the proposed Kudat statue project favourably.”