A company slammed for attempting to replicate a ‘sacred’ statue of a Vietnamese goddess on top of the holy Sam Mountain in southern Vietnam’s An Giang Province has been slapped with an administrative fine and forced to remove the illegal construction.
The fine of VND20 million (US$1,317) was issued on Friday by the administration of An Giang’s Chau Doc City, where the statue is located, according to its deputy chairman Tran Quoc Tuan.
Dozens of workers had already started working on removing the replica as of Friday, Tuan said, which would take roughly a week to finish.
“This incident has been a profound lesson for the administration of Chau Doc in managing constructions within the Sam Mountain relics,” Tuan said.
MGA Vietnam Ltd., which is behind the illegal statue’s construction, made headlines last month when it was discovered that the company was building the replica without public knowledge or permission from authorities.
The original statue is of Ba Chua Xu (Holy Mother of the Realm), a prosperity goddess in local folk religion rumored to be responsive to loyal followers, who pay tribute every year to her shrine located at the foot of the mountain.
The replica was therefore viewed as disrespectful to the beliefs of her worshippers, who insisted there could only be one statue of Ba Chua Xu.
MGA is also building a cable car system leading to the top of the mountain, which is part of an over VND1.5 trillion ($66.08 million) project to develop a religious tourism compound at the Sam Mountain.
The project includes a five-star hotel, a massive square, a 117-meter tower among other construction items.
Nguyen Phi Tien, director of MGA Vietnam, said the new statue would serve future visitors taking the cable car to the mountaintop, allowing them to pay tribute to Ba Chua Xu without queuing for her shrine at the foot of the mountain.
According to a local official, the illegal replica once removed would be replaced by a Jade Buddha statue for worshipping purposes.