Mazu statue in Kudat – allow resumption of construction and official opening before next polls

Former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat has said that he is prepared to drop his suit if the Sabah state government allows the construction of the world’s tallest Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) statue at its original location in Kudat.

Responding to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement in Tuaran on Sunday on the government’s hope that the Kudat Mazu statue dispute could be settled amicably without going to court, Chong said he was left with no option except to institute legal proceedings as he had only 28 days to appeal against the decision of the Kudat Town Board (KTB) to withdraw its earlier approval for the Mazu statue on Nov. 15 last year.

He said he had been “patient because I have been writing, pleading and begging with everyone to resolve this matter for one-and-a-half years”.

Najib had said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was open to negotiation to resolve the controversy over the halted construction of the Mazu statue in Kudat. The Deputy Prime Minister said Musa had given him the assurance that as Chief Minister he is open to solving problems, including sensitive ones.

I for one would not believe Musa and I believe that this would be the sentiment of Chong and Sabahans who supported the construction of the world’s tallest Mazu statue both on the grounds of the constitutionally-entrenched guarantee of freedom of religion as well as to enhance the international tourism competitiveness of Sabah and Malaysia.

This is because the RM5 million 10-storey 108-ft high Mazu statue would have been completed and officially opened early last year and would have become a magnet to bring in tourist revenue from local, regional and international tourists for the past year.

The tourist and economic potential of the world’s tallest Mazu statue are most promising, especially in kick-starting the economy in Kudat, which is the poorest region in Sabah and Malaysia.

Religious monuments and statues have always been major tourism draws of countries. For instance, the 108-metre high Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue in Hainan Island attracts some 2.5 million tourists a year.

If in its first year, the Mazu statue can attract 10,000 tourists to Kudat, it would already been a great start.

However, it was Musa who single-handedly halted the construction of the Mazu statue because of his animosity with Chong, especially in spat over Musa’s plan to develop the Sipadan Island, one of the world’s five best diving spots, in utter disregard of the Sipadan’s ecosystem which attracted unfavourable international attention for Malaysia because of criticism from global environmentalist.

Construction work on the RM5 million 10-storey 108-ft high Mazu statue started in February 2006 after formal approval was issued by the Kudat Town Board on 8th February 2006.

When the first directive was issued on May 25, 2006 to stop the construction of the Mazu statue, the RM1 million 20-feet platform for the statue had been completed, granite carvings of the statue by craftsmen from China ordered and 21 containers of granite carvings shipped to Kota Kinabalou from China, with visa application s for 11 craftsmen from China to assemble the granite carvings of the statue approved by the Immigration Department.

DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok and I visited the stalled Mazu construction project in Kudat on Sunday morning and we were informed that local Muslims in Kudat have no objection to the Mazu statue, as they see it as a great opportunity to break the back of hard-core poverty in the area.

The reasons which had been given so far to halt the Mazu statue do not stand up to any scrutiny. For instance, the argument that the Mazu statue is close to the Asy-Syarikin Mosque in Kudat collapses on close examination.

This is because the statue would be about 2,400 ft from the mosque, whereas there is another temple, the Fu Tik Temple which is just opposite the mosque across the road in the town cent re or about 100 ft away.

The Fu Tik Temple was built as far back as 1941 or some 66 years ago and was there when the Asy-Syarikin Mosque was built in the 80s. If the Asy-Syarikin Mosque had no objection to being so close to the Fu Tik Temple, the oldest temple of the Hokkien community in Kudat, and build it in the 80s about 100 ft away, why should there be any objection to the building of the Mazu statue which is about 2,400 ft away?

There are many places of worship of different faiths in the country which are next to one another and even share the use of common passages or spaces, for instance a temple and a mosque in Kuching which one above another while in Miri there is a church and a mosque next to each other sharing the use of common passageways.

The other objection that the construction of any statue or replica of a living thing, either human or animistic, is haram and should not be allowed – which is the fatwa of the Mufti Sabah – is even more subversive of the multi-religious foundation of Malaysia. Imagine the horrendous consequences if such a fatwa is accepted in Malaysia and implemented throughout the country?

In view of the latest developments and Najib’s statement in Tuaran, Barisan Nasional national and state leaders must demonstrate they have the political will to undo the 2007 “annus horibilis” by allowing the resumption of work on the world’s tallest Mazu statue in Kudat so that it could be officially opened for world tourists before the next general election expected this year.

  1. #1 by winterman05 on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 - 10:20 pm

    The Mazu statue in Kudat is of vital importance to those believers of their religious faith. There must be something seriously wrong with the mentality of the higher-ups. What are they trying to prove? That they are all-powerful and nobody can shake them ?Let me remind them that the one-time strongman of Berjaya thought that no person, including Pairin Kitingan of Tambunan, could shake him. The State election showed him to the door! Not only his Party lost most of the seats, even he, an invincible man who was all-powerful then, was knocked out! A fledgling Party, PBS, came into power! Berjaya came in third at the polls, beaten even by USNO!

    The Chief Minister now should realise that he will suffer a similar fate. BERSUH and HINDRAF showed that they meant business. The writing is on the wall! To save his neck, he should mend fences now before it is too late. Maybe it is already too late!

  2. #2 by undergrad2 on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 - 10:45 pm

    The only way forward is to stop politicizing religion.

    Religion anywhere in the world is divisive and is best left alone. I understand it is rather late for that – some forty years too late. But UMNO under Anwar was what did it. For as long as UMNO leaders persist in their effort at Islamization, this war of attrition between secular values and religious values will continue to divide Malaysians.

    Malaysians of all races can only hope that a serious setback at the polls would make some of them re-think their policies.

    But politicization of religion is something both government and political opposition has to take a step back and look at the big picture – and where it is taking this nation of some 26 million people who are 40% non-Muslims.

  3. #3 by alphoti on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 - 11:00 pm

    ‘The only way forward is to stop politicising religion’, undergrad2.

    Couldn’t agree more to that. And race too.

    Actually the Malaysian get along well with each other irrespective of race & religion. At least at one time before politician exploit the racial & religious issues (at alot of time, non-issues eg Allah can only be exclusively used by Muslim).

    In my place (in Sarawak), we do not have any problem. Very often, we mixed well especially on important accassions like marriages & funerals. The sight of Muslims waiting outside Church for funeral masses before proceeding to Christian cemetry (& vice versa) is so common. I hope this will continue & the people will not be influenced by those sick politicians. They often talked of national unity but they are the main cause of national disunity.

  4. #4 by cheng on soo on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 - 11:30 pm

    This nut Mus Amn, he is too free, so hv to find some issue to lay play. What was his reason to object, sensitive? what sensitive, he is a useless as a CM! Can hv Indian god statue in Batu Caves, Buddha statue in Kelantan, Penang, Tugu Negara in KL lake garden, Big helang in Langkawi, Big tortoise in Trengganu, so why is Sabah special?
    if a govt can suka suka withdraw approval for construction, wht do expect the aggravated party to do.? No go to Court? then what?another illegal public rally?? Who wan 2 invest big in Sabah then?

  5. #5 by U32 on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 - 11:35 pm

    Some commentators here are very innocent.

  6. #6 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 12:06 am


    Where have people like you been all these 30 years??

    It is the politicians irrespective of what their political affiliations are who have been dividing the people. PAS and UMNO are leading the pack and they do it for their own self interest and not for the people’s interest. Malaysians were living happily as Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus and Christians under the Tunku and Tun Razak and Hussien Onn. Now we are at each others throats over all the issues colored on each and every issue by race and religion. The politicians are to be blamed.

    Politics has become a profession rather than a duty to serve the people. Something has seriously gone wrong. We see the same thing happening in the United States as we go into the Iowa Caucus.

  7. #7 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 12:11 am

    “They often talked of national unity but they are the main cause of national disunity.” alphoti

    For these politicians it is talking about national unity that gives them their jobs and the power that comes with it; the moment they stop talking about national unity and start working on it, they cease to be relevant.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 12:21 am

    How so are commentators here “very innocent”?

    Work on the world’s tallest Mazu statue in Kudat must be allowed to resume. I can see no other way. The Mufti Sabah may, in his infinite wisdom opine that such statue is “haram” (forbidden in Islam) but what has that got to do with anything since Mazu statue is not constructed for Muslims’ religious purposes but for non muslims’ religious needs? Pork to is haram to muslims but does it imply that pigs are not reared and pork not eaten by non muslims? This country is supposedly founded on religious tolerance where not only Muslims’ religious interests are promoted but the religious needs of other races and non muslims are also catered for. That is why article 11 of the Federal Constitution says that although Islam is the official religion, every person has the right to profess and practise his own religion, and every religious group, manage its own religious affairs and establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes restricted only in respect of propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims. That is also why the first principle of our national ideology/principles, the Rukun Negara is “kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”, the generic word meaning “God” as each community would worship Him rather than “Allah”. I agree that if the fatwa of Mufti Sabah were interpreted as not directed at Muslims only but to others – which implies the withholding of consent to build Mazu statue or to carry it further destroy all non Islamic statues of worship throughout the country – like the Taliban did for Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan – it will have “horrendous consequences” to the “multi-religious foundation of Malaysia”, not to mention contravene the Constitution and Rukun Negara! It is also true that the 108-ft high Mazu statue in Kudat would attract world tourists. Everywhere in the world colossal God statutes are a proven tourist attractions. Federal leaders should keep a rein over these provincial little Napoleons and zealots and their narrow parochial interpretations to keep the multiracial/religious peace and harmony.

  9. #9 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 1:50 am

    It is not the tourism factor that has led opposition politicians to this remote corner of Malaysia. It is because of the continued erosion of the constitutional rights of all Malaysians whatever their race and religion.

  10. #10 by Jong on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 2:32 am

    In his new year message, the PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called on the people of Malaysia to deny extremists the room to influence or dictate, the country’s agenda. Whao great speech but the call does not apply to him and his administration?

    Comeon Mr Blur, how come you have allowed this idiotic Musa Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah and his Mufti to dictate terms, mess up the peace, offend and angered the local community there? Are they not extremists?

  11. #11 by Daniel Quah on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 2:39 am

    those freak…wont admit their wrong doing…if they admit mean they kowtow to non-bumi demand…mana maruah Ketuanan Malays??!! Respect the Constitution of Malaysia.. Mr. CM of Sabah…

  12. #12 by laifoong on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 4:18 am

    “Are they not extremists?”

    …something is wrong with their extremities… never really had a firm grasp…time to hold your future in your own hands…nothing gray to matter much….do as i tell you not what i do type of ‘leader’

  13. #13 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 6:33 am

    Jeffrey, as I have said in my earlier blogs, the Rukunegara in Malaysia is nothing but a piece of “tattered toilet paper” fit for wiping our asses. What was written in this “sacred document” has been totally forgotten since Day 1.

    For me, I need not go down so far in the document as to reach “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”. All these while I have just been harping on four words, “membina masyarakat yang adil”. Can it be the least bit adil when they insist on maintaining and prolonging the NEP? What’s more they had the cheek to send the “astronaut” to outer space to read this document. Or did that imply that this document is not fit to be read on Earth, especially in Malaysia that they had to bring it to outer space so that no one will hear the ridiculous claims in this “tattered piece of toilet paper”?

  14. #14 by DarkHorse on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 7:54 am

    They brought it into space because Allah would hear it better and perhaps even give His blessing. Earth is too far away – what with all the pollution.

  15. #15 by UzMiNoOnist on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 8:10 am

    The rot has started since 2 general elections ago, where the fight intensified between UMNO and PAS to win the votes of the hardcore and indoctrinated religious believers. Each try to prove they are ‘Holier Than Thou’.

    Also, the ARABization of local Muslim to be on the same or higher standard than the Arabs themselves has skewed the practice of many locals who professed to be the experts in their religion.

    How sad when we see this country’s racial harmony and religious tolerance is going to the dog.

    If the politicians are interested in getting the country back on its racial integration footing, they must first understand what it means to be living along side people of different culture and belief. Even the Arabs are are eating alongside the Jews.

    However, this is a futile call in Malaysia as these “little napoleons” I could speculate have no inking about their religious callings. One other good example is the banning of the use of “Allah” by other religions.

    Through these “little napoleons” or more like “damn bloody little bastxxds”, excuse my language, a great religion like Islam is turned into a Civilization Plague where one religion is imposing its will onto others. This is going backward into the era when homosapiens migrate from the African continent onto other parts of the planet and imposing their ideology and belief onto others as they move along into their new found land. I guess they are acting out of animal instinct rather than civilized thinking.

    This seems to be trend now, at least in this country, and it is fashionable to impose the will of one’s religion onto others and politicians have not been helpful.

  16. #16 by cheng on soo on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 8:22 am

    If these things go on, soon, there may hv the following-
    a). Cannot rear pig, haram. Pork import need permit (with big fees n quota), n sold in restricted place only.
    b). All private shop n business closed from 12 noon to 3 pm on Friday. Those who do not comply pay a big fine.
    c). All who attend official functions, Uni graduation etc, must wear Muslim dress (promote uniformity for national unity).
    d). All existing temples, churches, etc must hv a 2.5 metre high concrete wall (colour n pictures on walls must hv approval) to surround them. Those who did not comply may be demolish.
    Dont laugh, all these are possible!

  17. #17 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 8:39 am

    YB LKS: “He said he had been “patient because I have been writing, pleading and begging with everyone to resolve this matter for one-and-a-half years”.

    It takes an ex-CM to kick up a ruckus before he even gets noticed on a constitutional right! What hope has the ordinary Malaysian? This is more & more like an oppressive third world country with little or no respect for the rule of law and respect for the people.

    Musa Aman must be voted out in 2008. Never seen a BIGGER NUT! And for a CM, that’s absolutely untenable.

  18. #18 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 8:43 am

    And we thought that having that Mokhtar of Kinabatangan was already a catastrophic tragedy for Sabah. Musa has somehow got to snatch the crown away for what must be the abyss of stupidity and sick jokes.

    Sabah, c’mon, you deserve better!

  19. #19 by oknyua on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 9:13 am

    “In my place (in Sarawak), we do not have any problem.” Alphoti

    Yeah, in what context? Forest destroyed, rivers polluted, contracts never completed, old buildings destroyed replaced by new ones constructed by cronies… and of course all are okay because no political party is able to check on the abuses, blinded by a few projects here and there while the elite bleeds the State government dry. No problem?

    The Chinese SUPP is a pale shadow of its former self. The present president is nothing compared to Wong Soon Kai, Ong Kee Hui, Stephen Yong. The parties representing Ibans in shambles… they even have 2 presidents in one… all no problem. The subsidies for replanting of rubber had stopped. No problem.

    Who holds the power in Sarawak? The people or the elite few?

    These are just the beginning and if allowed to progress Sarawak is not far behind Sabah. Later the disparities between races comes into question. The ibans are now satisfied in the longhouses, but the younger generations might ask question. All no problem?

    The Alkitab almost banned… just inches away from being banned. All no problem? 600,000 Ibans, Lun Bawangs, Kayans etc without bibles … all no problem. The law to ban Kitab Iban has NOT been abolished, only lifted, all no problem?

  20. #20 by Jimm on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 9:15 am

    So political wrapped issue. That’s normal for Malaysian.
    Every time when GE is just around the corner , our voices will be heard and those sensitive issue will be given priority attention to ease off or granted.
    Malaysia Boleh ..

  21. #21 by oknyua on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 9:32 am

    Readers: Read the full context of Chong KK’s interview and you could clearly see:

    1. There is a high level cover-up (and conspiracy). The Ma Zhu’s ban came one day after Chong’s meeting with PM! How so?
    2. Someone (a few of them) are big, big liars.
    3. The emergence of racial problem in Sabah seemed to coincide with the arrival of AMNO into the state.

  22. #22 by grace on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 10:03 am

    How to attract FDI when the government changes policies like changing clothes. At first it was approved and then a sudden about turn when the people spend millions invested.
    Only way to go is VOTE DAP, the voice of the poor and helpless.

  23. #23 by Jimm on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 10:24 am

    I dont’ think this project will ever complete after all.
    IT’s just to ease off the current pressure from the public since being highlighted by CKK.
    BN will get even with CKK over his own wrong doings in the past soon after GE and this time they will make sure that CKK will keep his mouth shut for good.
    Political events are always a heated high profile game. Non of them are even closed enough to complete wit hthe whole pack of them.
    CKK is just pushing out his last card as he knew his odds before the show hand.

  24. #24 by year of snake on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 11:24 am

    I hope the people of Sabah will vote out this MULLAH MUSA the TALEBAN OF SABAH in the next state election and vote for the opposition where UMNO candidates are standing in the next GE. If not he will go to the next stage of destroying all the existing statues of other faiths in Sabah.

  25. #25 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 11:48 am

    Lest we all be sidetracked, this issue started as a personal vendetta as can be seen clearly from YB Kits’s explanation that Musa was unhappy with Chong for having torpedoed his(Musa) attempted rape of Sipadan. He wanted to get even with Chong and used this Mazu statue as an excuse. But Musa needed a good reason and so used that most sensitive of reasons, religion, or more specifically, offending Islam. By doing so, he knows the Federal Govt. will have no choice but be forced to support him becuase the Federal Govt cannot afford to be seen to be supporting another religion against Islam. He went further by making use of the Mufti to issue an idiotic fatwa to support his reason. Now that they have painted themselves into a corner and dug a hole for AAB and Najib, they are resorting to proposing an amicable negotiation.

    This is like having raped a girl and then ask her to settle amicably.

  26. #26 by ahoo on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 12:20 pm

    If we allowed ourselves to be desensitised on all aspects of
    religious rights, the ” holier than thou ” attitude will prevail !
    It will stamped their marks over all and sundry. We will then
    cry but too late. Let’s all play positive roles if we want to
    see real changes in our beloved nation.

    People of Sabah, show them (corrupted ministers/officers)
    you all mean business by voting them out ! No second
    thoughts for them who have no shame and think that they
    can take peoples votes for granted.

    Say no to BN for all the ” yo yo ” policies and the ever
    arrogant attitudes with untold excesses and wastages.
    Vote for change and ensure that you are heard clearly
    when you vote wisely !

    Malaysia, macam macam boleh !!!

  27. #27 by lakshy on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 1:48 pm

    Why build it if it will only be brought down again? Waste of public funds only.

    You see people like Zak Mat Darus can build a palatial mansion on land supposed to be set aside for low cost housing, and build without approvals etc, but nothing happens to his house. Nothing happens to him, no ACA investigation. But temples that were in existence even before the ink on our constitution was dry are being demolished.

    So tell me, whats to protect the Mazu statue when the Sabah Mufti comes out with a new edict?

    Dont build it. Dont waste money.

  28. #28 by catharsis on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 3:20 pm

    Mr Prime Minister – talk about the world should look to Malaysia as an example for RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE is cheap when religious intolerance is rife. Is this what you call MALAYSIA BOLIH. Is Michael Beckman right with his catch phrase MALAYSIA BODOH.

    Congratulations! we have just reinforced his perception of Malaysia

  29. #29 by EggNoodles on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 4:01 pm

    I feel sad that Chinese Malaysians are, like others, obsessed with the glory of Malaysian records or world records. Some people think that its gigantic size or 108-foot height is the cause of opposition.

    It is shameful to erect a statue of God or Goddess to make money. To ask for wealth and protection? Why not build a statue of Jesus or Buddha to attract more tourists?

    It is a pity that we cannot face the challenges of globalization by excellence in innovation, economy and advanced knowledge. Instead, we resort to religious beliefs or ‘feng shui’ for prosperity and wealth.

    Why is our society so terrible?

  30. #30 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 2 January 2008 - 9:45 pm

    I’ll bet this is another political gimmick by BN. They create problems and after some noise by the people, some “good samaritan” from the component parties will step out to resolve the problem. This way, it shows the people how concerned the BN government is towards the lives of peasants and with this, they will win in the coming GE.

    The fate experience by the statue of Mazu is similar to the Guan Yin statue erected at Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang which was reduced to look like a “fat lady” because the statue was sized down due to its original height exceeding the Governor’s residence.

  31. #31 by Count Dracula on Thursday, 3 January 2008 - 2:06 am

    “The fate experience by the statue of Mazu is similar to the Guan Yin statue erected at Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang which was reduced to look like the “fat lady”….” kkteokt

    Fat lady? You mean Rafidah Aziz?

  32. #32 by ktteokt on Thursday, 3 January 2008 - 9:44 am

    Count Dracula, how can you degrade the Goddess of Mercy by comparing her with such a “low class” living being. What is Rafidah Aziz compared to the Goddess of Mercy! Rafidah only has a big mouth blaring utter nonsense!

  33. #33 by alphoti on Thursday, 3 January 2008 - 10:14 pm


    When I mentioned we do not have problem here in Sarawak, I was refering to the people of different races & religions living together. We do not fight over such issues.

    I also mentioned that its the acts of the present Government & the politicians that are sowing seeds to the problems you foresee might be coming. That’s why I mentioned that at least once before our politicians exploit such issues.

    Of course we have lots of problems in Sarawak. I am fully aware of the issues you mentioned. Again, those are the deeds of the politicians. But the worst thing is the people keep on voting them to power.


    I spend the last 30 years watching in pain at how those politicians exploits religion & race to gain power.

    GE is coming soon. Together, lets vote them OUT!

  34. #34 by catharsis on Friday, 4 January 2008 - 5:36 am

    Uncle Lim,

    Invest in an Image Consultant, a Spin Doctor, A Strategies Think Tank, and a book on Sun TZU- wish you luck in the coming election and beat them on VALUES, PRINCIPLES, STRATEGIES and POLICIES

  35. #35 by ChinNA on Sunday, 6 January 2008 - 12:54 pm

    If we vote the BN out, and assuming we do, can anyone predict who are the likely persons to fill up the existing cabinet positions?

    It would be interesting to see the possibilities. Anyone game to give it a try?

    For a start, who should be PM, DPM?

  36. #36 by kahtk on Sunday, 6 January 2008 - 2:38 pm

    This issue will only be solved after the GE as Musa will no longer be the CM of Sabah. As a Sabahan, I see him as the second worst CM in all time, right after the idiot who lost millions in the British casino!

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