MALACCA: The iconic Eye on Malaysia, the country’s largest ferris wheel, had to cease operations indefinitely on Thursday pending the outcome of a legal suit brought against its operators by a foreign company.
The 60m-high ferris wheel closed its doors to the public at about 9.30am when lawyers and receivers of Fitraco NV arrived to enforce a Nov 26 injunction granted by the High Court against MST Ad Suria Sdn Bhd and Eye On Malaysia Sdn Bhd (EOM).
A bus loaded with tourists and several other visitors were caught by surprise when informed by security guards that the ferris wheel was closed for rides. It was learned that several hundred tourists who had made prior bookings would also be affected by the closure.
Fitraco, a leisure equipment leasing company based in Belgium, initiated legal proceedings against MST Ad Suria on Sept 15 last year to take over the ferris wheel or The Giant Wheel after it failed to repay the loan, said to be some RM17mil, in mid-May 2009.
MST Ad Suria, through Eye on Malaysia Sdn Bhd (EOM), had two years ago entered into a joint-venture project with the Malacca state government’s subsidiary Kumpulan Melaka Berhad (KMB) for the ferris wheel to be placed at a theme park to be developed on a 1.6ha site in Kota Laksamana.
The injunction was granted to Fitraco to enter into the site and gain custody of the ferris wheel to protect its interest pending the outcome of proceedings.
Meanwhile, Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state was not the sole operator of the ferris wheel but was involved in a joint-venture to develop a theme park.
“The state is not involved in the legal tussle as it is one faced by MST Ad Suria when it failed to secure a bank loan to repay Fitraco.
“We hope the matter can be resolved as soon as possible as the closure would mean a loss of tourists for the state,” he said when met after the launching the Malacca Integrated Surveillance System here on Thursday.
He added the state would be willing to bid for the wheel if the Belgian company wishes to auction it off.
He urged EOM to make the necessary arrangements for their affected workers and make alternative plans for the cancelled bookings.
It was learnt that the ferris wheel has chalked up ticket sales of some RM5mil since its opening here in October, 2008.
Some RM30mil was said to have been spent to bring the giant ferris wheel to Malaysia where it was first sited at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007 before being relocated to Malacca.