A sight to behold
By DERRICK VINESH - Saturday January 8, 2011; The Star Publications

A CANOPY of 10,000 red lanterns has appeared over one of Butterworth’s busiest streets — Jalan Raja Uda — in conjunction with the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations.

Bobbing prettily in the breeze, the exquisite lanterns were a sight to behold as this is the first time such a large number has been strung up across the road for the festive season.

Known for its Apollo market, touted as Penang’s largest open-air market and popular for its mouth-watering Chinese hawker fare, the entire 3.5km-long stretch from Jalan Telaga Air to Jalan Permatang Tengah has taken on a carnival mood with the colourful lanterns.

The China-made silk lanterns will be officially switched on by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at 7.30pm on Monday and thereafter, they will be illuminated from 7pm to 7am daily until March 4.

State executive councillor-cum-Bagan Jermal assemblyman Lim Hock Seng said the initiative was a joint effort by the state government and the Guan Yin Ting Dou Mu Gong Temple in Raja Uda.

“We want to evoke the Lunar New Year festive spirit among the people in the neighbourhood.

“At the same time, we hope it would be an attraction to get more shoppers and tourists to patronise the shops and food stalls here,” he said in an interview.

Temple committee chairman Datuk Chin Poh Chye said 15 volunteers, divided into three groups, had used mini skylift vehicles to install the lanterns between 10pm and 6am daily since last week.

He said as Jalan Raja Uda was a very busy road, the volunteers had to be mindful of their safety and could only install the lanterns when there was less traffic.

“Our men are racing against time to complete the installation by tomorrow (Sunday),” he said, adding that the cost of powering the lanterns for about two months was estimated at RM60,000.

Chin, who initially forked out RM300,000 for the lanterns and wiring costs, hoped to get individuals, companies and organisations to sponsor the lanterns at RM99 each to raise money for the temple’s building fund project.

He said the committee of the 50-year-old temple, which was the oldest in Raja Uda, had recently bought a piece of land opposite its premises for RM2mil.

“We need about RM5mil for the new temple, which would have three halls, including a 24m-high pagoda in the middle.

“The temple will also have 24 pillars with dragon designs carved on them,” he said, adding that 15 craftsmen from Hokkien Province in China had been engaged to work on the project.

Those who wish to contribute towards the lantern sponsorship can call Chin at 017-4888888 or Ms Chew at 013-4151515.

Source: The Star -A sight to behold

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