Tue, 30 May 2023



Says ex-CM who catapulted Sabah to billion-ringgit league: Mazu to attract millions tourists
Published on: Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Says ex-CM who catapulted Sabah to billion-ringgit league: Mazu to attract millions tourists
Chong (centre) with Liew (right) and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk Mohd Yusrie Abdullah during the meeting.
Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat is confident that millions of people from around the world will converge on Kudat to view the 108-foot majestic Mazu Statue (Goddess of the Sea) once the abandoned project is revived.

Chong, under whom Sabah started registering billion ringgit revenues from tourism for the first time as State Tourism Minister, said this to incumbent Datuk Christina Liew at a meeting at her office on Wednesday.

He is also credited with convincing former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to open up Sabah and Sarawak to northern destinations like Korea, Taiwan and China that has now resulted in a steady stream of visitors from these countries. Chong, who also served as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, stressed that the statue would 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 has been a major tourist attraction in other parts of the world, Chong said some 10 million people from mainland China visit Sanya in Hainan yearly just to see the Quan Yin statue (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 (State) 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,” he said.

“This is not the first time you (Christina) 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.

According to Chong, he had gone to see Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor several times on the matter. Chong was appointed as Special Tourism Advisor to the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah Government by Hajiji last year in view of his tourism track record, and which Chong agreed to without seeking any payment.

“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. 

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