KOTA KINABALU (Mar 29): Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor is not against the construction of the Mazu statue (Goddess of the Sea) in Kudat after it was abandoned more than 20 years ago.
The former chief minister said he had gone to see Hajiji several times on the matter.
“The Mazu statue will be the pride of Sabah. The CM told me that he has never objected to the erection of the statue.
“I am of the view that putting it up would reflect the tolerance of Muslim leaders in the State,” he said, adding the statue consists of 408 pieces of granite.
Chong said this when meeting Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew at her office on Wednesday.
He is optimistic that millions of people from around the world will converge on Kudat to view the 108-foot majestic Mazu statue (Goddess of the Sea) if the abandoned project is revived and accomplished in the near future.
He stressed that the statue will be an important icon for Kudat and the State, saying it is all for tourism and protection of the seafarers, and not about religion per se.
Citing an example of the Mazu statue as a major tourist attraction in other parts of the world, Chong said some 10 million people from mainland China visited Sanya in Hainan just to see the Quan Yin deity (Goddess of Mercy) or touch her feet.
“I am thankful to the State Government and Chief Minister for their understanding and consideration for resumption of the project as brought up by Tourism Minister Christina to resolve the long-standing issue.
“Her remark that past conflicts should be resolved amicably for the benefit of the people of Kudat and Sabah as a whole, and the State’s economy, is most welcome,” the former Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment said.
Chong told Liew: “This is not the first time you have pursued the matter. In 2018, you raised the possibility of reviving the project publicly, upon assuming the portfolio of Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, and had made a clear statement in the papers. But I know you were constrained under the then Warisan-led government.”
Describing Sabah as a leading multi-racial state, he said we must show the world that Malaysians in Sabah respect each other and live in harmony, regardless of our diverse cultures.
The Kudat community requested the government to construct the statue during Liew’s recent visit to the abandoned project.
The project was abruptly cancelled by the state government in 2007 after it had been granted approval earlier.
Its cancellation led to a bitter Chong resigning as the chief minister and filing a suit against the state government.
If the project materialises, it will be the world’s tallest Mazu statue.