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Jakarta Post

The Christ of Vung Tau

  • Arif Suryobuwono

    Contributor

Jakarta   /   Sun, April 24 2011   /  07:00 am

A relief of the Last Supper is seen near the pedestal of the statue.I was critical the first time I visited Vung Tau a few years ago. Why build a 32-meter statue of Christ on a hill more than 170 meters tall in a city 125 kilometers from Saigon?

Was Rio de Janeiro’s statue of Christ the Redeemer, 2 meters smaller but standing on a pedestal 3 meters higher, not enough? How could the makers know what Jesus looked like? Was the ferroconcrete statue meant to satisfy religious megalomaniacs? Wouldn’t it be better to use the money for the poor?

I climbed about 1,000 steps to reach the statue, built in 1974, after a hearty breakfast at Palace Hotel. I was a tourist enthralled by vistas framed by heights from different angles, the full extent of which was not always possible to capture with my camera.

The second time I saw the statue, in my recent trip to the petroleum...