MELAKA: With Christmas Day just 25 days away, residents of the Portuguese Settlement are still uncertain over the fate of the 'Christ the Redeemer' statue replica.
Although the statue which was earlier earmarked for demolition had been put on hold, there is a growing concern as to whether the statue can be completed in time for villagers to revel in one of their most important annual celebrations.
The statue, a replica of the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Brazil, was constructed by the villagers to mark Christmas celebration.
However, its hands and head have yet to be constructed.
In a reply to the adjournment speech by Tey Kok Kiew (DAP-Banda Hilir) at the state legislative assembly sitting here, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron reiterated that he wanted to seek an amicable solution to the controversial issue and avoid upsetting the feelings of the Portuguese community.
"Once again, I do not wish for the issue to be sensationalised. What is most important is that it does not sow disharmony.
"The MBMB (Melaka Historic City Council) will hold discussions whether or not to allow the construction of the hands and head of the replica.
"This will take time because we must solve this in an amicable manner. The solution is already there and they (MBMB) will provide the guidelines later," he told the House before adjourning sine die today.
Idris maintained that he was not calling for the demolition of the statue, but for it to be relocated to a suitable and safer site after consensus was reached among residents and the local authorities.
"I am sure that the Christmas celebration will be great. I may even propose that Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz visit the settlement to witness its celebration.
"I am certain that MBMB will find ways to do its best,” said Idris.
When contacted, MBMB mayor Datuk Zainal Hussin declined to comment, saying that his officer would hold a meeting with the Portuguese community to resolve the issue surrounding the 8-metre statue.
"My officer will discuss with the Portuguese Settlement Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman (Richard Hendricks) next Monday to come up with a solution," he told New Straits Times.
On Oct 30, MBMB received a complaint over the erection of the 8-metre statue of Jesus Christ which was done by the JKKK without obtaining the council’s prior approval.
A stop-work order was issued immediately, citing safety reasons and the visual obstruction of the village, which was a tourist landmark.
The issue sparked uproar and a series of meetings have been held between the village JKKK, community leaders and the local council.