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Winning design idea of nationwide competition ‘brought to life’ in Sandakan Harbour Square

Sandakan, Sabah – 1 July 2013: The Utan sculpture in the Sandakan Harbour Square is set to be Sandakan’s iconic tourism landmark for Malaysians and tourists alike. The sculpture, commissioned following a nationwide design competition last year, was recently unveiled during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Sabah’s Independence.
The Sandakan Sculpture Competition 2012 was jointly organised by Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd and Sandakan Harbour Square developers – ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd and Sandakan Municipal Council. All 61 competition entries received are being exhibited at Harbour Mall Sandakan from 28 June until 7 July 2013.


Michael Kwa Wei Choon’s winning design titled Utan won him First Prize with a RM18,000 cash reward. It was inspired by Sandakan’s renowned orang utan, and has pride of place in Sandakan Harbour Square. Daniel Tiong Wei Wen took Second Prize with his Mountain in Coils winning with a RM5,000 cash prize while Third Prize winner, Husna Adlyna Binti Sidek who also attended the sculpture unveiling ceremony, won herself RM3,000 cash with her design titled The Tree.


“My sculpture symbolises the nation’s pride towards Sandakan as a famous eco-tourism destination in South East Asia. The abstract geometric form personifies an ‘orang utan’ on all fours, with the recessed curve representing the primate’s face,” shared Michael Kwa, an art lecturer from an international school in Kuala Lumpur. Michael joined Datuk Ir. James Wong (President of Sandakan Municipal Council), and Mr Lai Voon Hon (Managing Director of ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd) as they unveiled the sculpture in Sandakan Harbour Square.

“The judges like the cutting edge design as it denotes Sandakan’s fast progression to becoming a vibrant Nature’s City. The contemporary interpretation of ‘orang utan’ is also very unique and most importantly, it takes into consideration factors such as relevance and practicality,”
said Lai Voon Hon, President and CEO, Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd.


The entries were judged on originality and creativity; relevance to the site and to Sandakan; visual impact to the public and long term maintenance. The judging panel included Datuk Ir. James Wong (President of Sandakan Municipal Council), Mr Lai Voon Hon (Managing Director of ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd); Datuk Lau Ngan Siew  (Former Member of Sandakan Parliament); Datuk John Lim (Board Member of Sabah Tourism Board of Directors); Mr Primus Kasun (Senior Officer of Sabah Forestry Department); Mr Ar. Chris Low Ing Ming (Director of ADC Akitek); Mr Ar. James Goh (CEO of JGP Architect Singapore); and Mr Tommy Chen (Artist/ Sculptor).


Standing majestically next to the coastal shores of Sandakan Bay, the sculpture is adjacent to the Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan (‘FPSS’) and Harbour Mall Sandakan (‘HMS’). FPSS, an acclaimed international class hotel in Sandakan, houses 300 stylish contemporary guest rooms. With the largest state-of-the-art function space in the city, FPSS is fast gaining popularity as the venue for business meetings, conferences, convention, banquets and wedding receptions.


On the other hand, HMS, the city’s only modern lifestyle mall has been bustling with activities with foot-fall traffic from locals, tourists and students (Sandakan is the Education Hub of Sabah state). HMS boasts many household renowned brands; and is now a preferred destination for fairs, exhibitions, road shows, community events and campaigns.


Some eco-tourism attractions in Sandakan include the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, Sun Bear Sanctuary, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Turtle Islands Park, Sun Bear Sanctuary, Kinabatangan River and Gomantong Caves.




L-R: Lai Voon Hon, Datin Wong, Datuk Ir. James Wong and Michael Kwa during sculpture unveiling ceremony.




The abstract geometric form of the sculpture personifies an ‘orang utan’ on all fours, with the recessed curve representing the primate’s face.





A young school girl attentively taking photograph of the Utan sculpture.




Tourists studying the Utan sculpture which is now Sandakan’s latest iconic landmark.




For locals, the Utan sculpture symbolises their pride towards Sandakan as a famous eco-tourism destination in South East Asia.