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Singapore may bring Merlion to Expo

SINGAPORE'S iconic Merlion statue may come to Shanghai to charm visitors for the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, a senior official of the country's tourism authority told local media today.

Singapore's Expo pavilion design was unveiled today and looks like a huge "music box," according to Alfred Poon Keng Hoi, assistant director of the Singapore Tourism Board.

The country may invite Chinese artists to design another "Merlion" to swap with the original one during the Expo, he said.

Denmark has announced it will send its "Little Mermaid" to its Expo pavilion for the 2010 event and has invited Chinese sculptors to produce a "Chinese interpretation" as a temporary substitute.

The Merlion is an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. It was the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board from 1964 to 1997 and later became one of the most popular tourists' spots in the country. More than one million tourists go to see the statue every year.

It has just been repaired after lightning damaged its head on February 28.

"I think it is a quite good idea and I hope the plan will come true," said Poon. He added that the board will discuss this with the Singapore government before making a decision.

But Tan Kay Ngee, chief designer of the pavilion, objected to the plan and said the Merlion should not be put in the pavilion because it has no business with the "city" theme of the Expo.

The Singapore pavilion will be a two-story 3,000-square-meter structure with an "Urban Symphony" theme. Its aluminum fa?ade will feature replicas of Singapore's famous buildings.

In the pavilion Singaporeans will share the experiences on urban planning that have turned the densely populated country into a famous "garden city," said Poon.

Water and gardens will be the two main elements inside the pavilion. Some fountains will be built around the pavilion and there will be a roof garden with precious tropical plants transported from Singapore, said Tan.

"Plants will be a highlight of the pavilion," he said.

Poon declined to reveal the budget of the pavilion and said the financial crisis had not had any impact.


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