Temple repairs to be completed soon

GEORGE TOWN: Trustees of the Kek Lok Si Temple have given the assurance that repairs to damage from a fire will be completed in time for its first Chinese New Year celebration since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Temple trustee Datuk Seri Steven Ooi Teik Heng said it would be only closed for a few days for repairs.

“The work will involve clearing up the mess and the minor damage caused by the fire,” he said, adding that the work should be finished even before the temple’s 130th anniversary celebration on Dec 22, which would also mark the opening of the Kek Lok Si Charitable Hospital.

The temple, he said, had yet to calculate the losses caused by the fire.

Ooi was talking to reporters after accompanying Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow yesterday to view the damage caused by the fire.

Also present were temple abbot Venerable Xian Guan and volunteers who helped with the clean-up.

Hard at work: Volunteers cleaning a section of Kek Lok Si Temple affected by the fire. — CHAN BOON KAI/The StarHard at work: Volunteers cleaning a section of Kek Lok Si Temple affected by the fire. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

The blaze, which is believed to have started on Tuesday due to a lamp, came at a time when the state is expecting an influx of tourists with the resumption of interstate travel.

Chow said the state government was thankful that the fire did not bring about severe losses or injuries.

The state government would allocate RM60,000 from the Non-Islamic Houses of Worship Fund to assist the temple with the repairs and clean-up, he added.

Located in Ayer Itam, Kek Lok Si, which translates into the Temple of Supreme Bliss, is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia and arguably the most famous in Penang.

On a separate matter, Chow said although Covid-19 cases had shown a downward trend in Penang, people should not treat it lightly as the public healthcare system here was still in a challenging period.

“With interstate travel being allowed, we will continue to monitor and hope that there will be no increase of cases that can put more pressure on our healthcare system,” he said.

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