Neglected and forgotten

Perched on a slope overlooking the sea in Batu Maung are more than 50 stone statues of Chinese deities and western icons left in a state of ruin and neglect. 

A popular tourist attraction between the 1950s and 1970s, this spot is now reduced to a state of oblivion. 

The statues include those of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (now left with four dwarves), Santa Claus, Statue of Liberty, Pegasus, Mon- key God, Kuan Yin and Laughing Buddha. 

Some are broken, cracked and their colours faded while others have crumbled apart. 

Paradise lost:They are among the 50-odd statues that used to draw tourists to Penang.

Fairy tale:Loh relating a story on the carving of Snow White.

Their sculptor Tan Gim Huat, 76, said he started making the first sta-tue, a tiger, in 1951, and created more than 100 others over a period of 20 years. 

“My ideas came from toys, television and story books. Even during my school days, I had an interest in art. 

“When I opened a photo shop on the slope, I decided to sculpt some figures to attract customers. I spent about RM100 per figure. And before I knew it, I had made over 100 statues. 

“On a good day, I could earn up to RM1,000 from taking photos. I charged RM100 for a set of 50 prints,” said the ex-St Xavier’s student, now a grandfather of eight. 

However, he said, he had to vacate the premises when its owner wanted to sell the land. 

Tan has given up on the photo-graphy business and is now selling fruits in Lorong Kulit.  

A stone’s throw from the slope is the Batu Maung Seafood Restaurant and Sam Poh Tong Temple, which was built on the site of Ming Admiral Zheng He's footprint. 

Many have likened the area to a mini version of Hong Kong’s Repulse Bay, which also features statues of Chinese deities overlooking the sea. 

Pioneer Batu Maung resident Loh Gin Kui urged the government to re-vive the place, which still had great tourism potential. 

“When the second Penang bridge is completed, motorists heading for the island can enjoy the view of the statues on the bay,” he added. 

“In its heyday, pony rides and ronggeng dances were held here. Apart from foreign tourists, people of all races from as far as Kedah and Perak flocked here,” he said. 

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