Pontianak official's idea scares residents

JAKARTA • Singapore has the Merlion, and Kuching in Malaysia has cat statues attracting tourists to visit and take pictures.

So why should Pontianak, in Kalimantan province, not have its own symbol for the city and build a statue of Kuntilanak, a mythical female ghost with long hair and a white nightgown seeking revenge for the loss of her child and her own life during childbirth?

It would be good for tourism, Mr Kartius, the head of West Kalimantan's Youth, Tourism and Sports Agency, said recently.

"It's all right, you may call me crazy, I'm fine," he joked, when asked about his idea for a 100m statue of the mythical ghost.

Pontianak netizens circulated illustrations of what the proposed 100m statue in the city might look like, in response to the tourism official's idea.

But some residents were apparently less than charmed by the idea. A group calling itself Residents Movement Rejecting the Ghost Statue (Gema Topan) came to the West Kalimantan City Council building to protest against the idea late last month.

Five representatives of Gema Topan were received by Mr Irwan Suhandar, an official of the West Kalimantan City Council, who said the city council had yet to receive any official information about it from the administration. "It's only an idea," he added.

Folklore has it that when the founder of the Pontianak Sultanate, Abdurrahman Alkadrie, first came to the land to build his sultanate, he had a sighting of the ghost.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline Pontianak official's idea scares residents. Subscribe