The demolition of the Sentosa Merlion drew 90 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, as it was an emotional event for many Chinese netizens.
It also prompted more than 8,200 comments by Monday afternoon, reports the South China Morning Post.
Sentosa Development Corporation announced on Friday that the Merlion, which is the tallest of the seven Merlions in Singapore, would be closed off from October 20 to make way for a corridor linking the northern and southern part of the island, The Straits Times reported.
The Sentosa statue which is 37 metres high (121 feet) has a lift to take visitors to the top for views across the island.
According to Singapore Tourism Board figures, more than 3.4 million people visited Singapore from mainland China last year, up six per cent from the year before.
Many users commented that they feel the Merlion in Sentosa should not be demolished and the redevelopment of the Island could have by-passed the statue.
Some said a single statue wouldn’t really affect the new development in the area and that it was all right to leave it there, as it was a magnificent statue and it would be pitiful to see it demolished.
Nevertheless, the merlion – a hybrid with the body of a fish and the head of a lion – will make way for the Sentosa Sensoryscape leisure development.
The development project includes a themed thoroughfare linking the island’s north and south shores and is aimed at rejuvenating Singapore’s southern tourist attractions, according to The Straits Times.
Development authorities on the Island told The Star in Malaysia they cannot relocate the statue due to its size. -/TISG