KOTA KINABALU: Pesta Kaamatan, which is widely celebrated throughout the state of Sabah, is symbolic of the harmony and unity among its people, says the Chief Minister.
Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the harvest festival is proof that the spirit of unity among the people is very much intact.
“I believe the spirit of unity shown through this festival will always be preserved and be an example to spur further development and progress in Sabah.
“This festival can definitely unite all the people of various races, religions and cultural backgrounds in the state.
“I hope such unity will be maintained and protected by Sabahans in time to come,” he said at the closing ceremony of the month-long Pesta Kaamatan at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) hall in Penampang near here on Tuesday (May 31).
Hajiji also expressed his delight at finally having the opportunity to meet and celebrate Kaamatan with the people as the event was only limited to virtual celebrations in the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also hoped the Kaamatan festival, which is themed Kaamatan Menjiwai Alam Semula Jadi (Kaamatan Ensouls Nature) this year, will be enhanced to represent the success of integration and understanding between the plethora of races in Sabah.
“Sabah is unique because of its harmony and colourful culture, besides being blessed with a beautiful natural environment which can attract more domestic and foreign visitors,” he said.
Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin officiated at the closing which was also attended by his wife Toh Puan Norlidah RM Jasni, the Chief Minister’s wife Datin Seri Juliah Salag, and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also chairman of the state-level Pesta Kaamatan main organising committee.
Meanwhile, Hajiji said the state government has allocated some RM9.5mil to the Sabah Cultural Board and a further RM400,000 to cultural associations under the state’s Budget 2022 for the implementation of various cultural, arts and linguistic activities.
He said this is an effort to ensure that the traditions and customs of the various ethnic groups in Sabah, which are a valuable asset to the tourism sector, will be preserved and made a legacy for generations to come.
“A Sabah Cultural Development plan will be enacted to elevate the priceless Sabahan heritage to a higher level,” he said.
The Chief Minister said the strategies included a digitalisation drive to improve data access to matters relating to culture, ethnic groups and state heritage through the development of the Cultural Mapping and e-Heritage programmes.
“At the same time, the Sabah government will continue to ensure the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) development plan will be realised and the fruits will be enjoyed by Sabahans.
“As such, I urge the people to always assist the government to achieve every initiative under the SMJ,” Hajiji said.