Green light for hospital

Fairyland of lights: The Kek Lok Si Temple all aglow after the lighting ceremony.

THE Kek Lok Si Temple has secured planning approval from the Penang Municipal Council for its proposal to build a five-storey charity medical centre in Air Itam.

Temple trustee Datuk Steven Ooi said they received the good news several days ago, adding that the hospital would be built opposite the footpath leading to the 123-year-old Buddhist monastery.

“We are grateful to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in assisting us with the application. This is only the first step in our quest to build a charity hospital.

“We still need to get approval for a hospital licence from the Health Ministry, building plan from the council and approval from other relevant authorities.

“It is still a long way to go,” he said on Saturday during a dinner before the temple’s annual lighting-up ceremony for Chinese New Year.

The idea of constructing the hospital was mooted by the temple’s former abbot Datuk Seri Venerable Seck Jit Heng who had said that it would provide free or subsidised medical services to the needy.

It was earlier reported that the temple had received RM2mil from 1Malaysia Development Bhd and RM10mil from a private donor. The long-term hospital plan would cost over RM50mil.

Ooi said Seck, who is the hospital chairman, would seek assistance from experts and professionals for the hospital’s set-up soon.

Lim, who was also present, said the state government would co-operate and assist the temple in meeting its objective.

“We will give our support and approval if it is within the state government’s jurisdiction,” he said to a thunderous applause from the floor.

The lighting ceremony saw fireworks being let off to usher in the Year of the Goat.

Thousands of neatly strung LED decorations and brightly lit red and yellow lanterns could be seen from afar across the temple grounds.

Temple abbot Venerable Xian Guan conducted a religious ceremony at the site before the lights were switched on at 7.56pm.

The lights will be on until March 17.

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