MELAKA: Villagers at the Portuguese Settlement are racing against time to find a suitable location to relocate the eight-metre Christ the Redeemer statue.
The statue, which was built by the Portuguese community to enliven the Christmas celebration, had to be relocated by Jan 7.
Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Association president Michael Singho had expressed his concerns that the deadline may be too short.
"We have mentioned to the mayor (Datuk Zainal Hussin) that the Jan 7 deadline set in the agreement would be difficult to meet, as it was too short a time to organise a specialised and intricate job like this.
"We also stressed that we do not have the necessary funds to do so, and we need time to raise funds," he said, adding that the villagers are requesting funding from the local council or the state government.
Singho said residents and visitors overwhelmingly preferred for the statue to remain at its present location, as it would save a lot of money, time and unnecessary work.
The statue had made its presence as the settlement’s landmark during the recent Christmas celebration, attracting visitors both local and foreign.
It is learnt that community leaders had met Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron on Dec 22, where it was reiterated that the structure must be relocated from its existing location at the settlement’s square.
"The proposal to relocate to the area at the end of D' Aranjo Road was not agreed by the leaders.
"We (have) however proposed the area beside the boat-landing at the seafront," he said.
MCA Youth's Young Professionals & Varsity Students Bureau Chairman Eric Choo Wei Sern said parties are still resolving issues on finding a suitable spot for the relocation.
"At the moment, the lands that they proposed are not theirs, but private lands, which would be difficult without the consent of the landowners.
"We will continue to find an amicable solution to the matter," he said.
Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB) councillor Joseph Sta Maria said he was not part of the negotiations but the ball is in the village development and security committee’s (JKKK) court to handle the matter.
"There have been discussions held between MBMB and JKKK, and they will continue to be held.
"I hope JKKK and MBMB can resolve the issue amicably and this include finding a suitable solution which would be mutually agreed upon.
MBMB mayor Datuk Zainal Hussin and JKKK chairman Richard Hendricks could not be reached for comments.