My correspondent in Penang sent me the following explanation:
I went up to Tanjung Bunga to personally ask the local people there about the floating mosque. I was told that the construction of the floating mosque was completed before the tsunami but it was not officially declared open when tsunami struck. It remained intact even though it was built in a tsunami area and you know why?
The answer is, the tidal waves that hit Penang Island stretching from Sungai Pinang (the fishing village where my fisherman friend is staying ) to Tanjung Tokong had already tailed off greatly by the time they reached our shores. That was why, based on my personal surveillance, the destructions caused in Penang were not severe at all as compared to the scale of destructions and ruins caused in Sri Lanka and Acheh, Indonesia.
Therefore, the floating mosque was able to stand as firmly as it is today is simply because, as I firmly believe, due to the fact that it did not bear the full brunt or the full force of the tsunami at that time. This could be, according to my surmise, due to Penang Island's geographical position which gives it better protection from the land mass in Acheh and Kedah, including the Langkawi Islands. (There were more losses of lives and properties in Kedah state.)
So this information, together with the information given below which appeared in the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia, part of which is quoted below, confirms that the floating mosque was not at all rebuilt after tsunami but was already there when tsunami struck. The confusion arose because although it already existed in 2004, it was only officially opened by the ex-PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on 16 March 2007.
Peristiwa tsunami yang melanda negeri di utara Semenanjung pada 26 Disember 2004, membuktikan masjid itu kukuh apabila pembinaannya tidak sedikit pun terjejas walaupun banyak rumah di kawasan sekitarnya ranap sama sekali.
Kampung Masjid, contohnya yang terletak berhampiran Masjid Terapung Tanjung Bunga, hampir seluruh rumah kayu beratap zink dan nipah ranap dipukul ombak besar.
Masjid tersebut bukan sahaja terselamat daripada bencana tsunami tetapi juga menjadi benteng penahan ombak yang mungkin boleh mengakibatkan kemusnahan lebih teruk dialami penduduk kampung sekitar Tanjung Bunga.