Among the NT$1.2 billion (US$39.8 million) to be spent building the proposed Daan Matsu cultural park in Greater Taichung, around NT$600 million of the funds will go toward constructing a nearly 70m tall statue of Matsu, including the foundation and a path of reverence for the sea goddess. Greater Taichung’s Tourism and Travel Bureau Director General Chang Da-chun says, “This will definitely be the tallest Matsu statue in Southeast Asia.” There are already many official and private tour groups from China making queries, Chang says, adding that he is confident that, along with Jenn Lann Temple in Dajia, “It will create a huge tourist attraction.”
Greater Taichung’s Christian community has joined forces and says that the tallest cross in Southeast Asia should also be erected. Liao Chin-ho, the minister who has made the request on the community’s behalf, says that Christianity and Catholicism belong to the world’s three major religions. If you combine Christians from China and Taiwan, the cost of building the tallest cross in Southeast Asia would not exceed the amount it will cost to build the Matsu statue, and the tourist value would definitely not be less than the Matsu statue either, Liao says.
Chang says that he is afraid building the tallest cross in Southeast Asia would be a bad idea, although he says that the Greater Taichung Government would consider the possibility of constructing a statue of Jesus. The location would not necessarily have to be in Daan District, Chang says, adding that the chosen location could help diversify tourist development in Greater Taichung. It could be done in collaboration with a private group, but still needs to be evaluated, Chang says.
Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Liberty Times
Liao says that the churches that have come together are asking for a cross to be built, not a statue of Jesus. Minister Gao Tzu-chiang, convener of churches in the eight districts along the west coast, says that a cross can cover Catholicism and all of the different Christian denominations, and also serve to represent the lord’s salvation. If a statue was going to be erected, there would be some controversy over whether to make it a statue of Jesus, Saint Mary or Saint Paul, making a statue inappropriate, Gao says.
According to the local government’s current plans, contractors were originally going to begin work for the Daan Matsu cultural park in May. After residents criticized the design last week during an explanatory session, the bureau decided to make changes according to suggestions from locals and hope to hand over the project to the general contractor by the end of June. Aside from living up to claims of being the tallest Matsu statue and the largest path of reverence to the goddess in Southeast Asia, there will also be an area for selling local agricultural products, a wind-barrier hallway, a wall displaying the story of Matsu, an ocean theater with a water screen movie theater, an ecological hotel and a villa.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)
Photo courtesy of the Greater Taichung Government
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