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Friday, June 01, 2001

Closing ranks in spirit of Kaamatan

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin/NST
Harvest Queen beauties competing in the state-level Kaamatan festival Unduk Ngadau on Thursday to be held at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang, went shopping in Kota Kinabalu on May 28. Picture shows (from left) Lydia Diana Gaisan, Janetha Stephen, Felicia Sylvester, Nicolita Sanseh Masi and Cherylanne Chok, at a beauty care shop at the Centre Point Kota Kinabalu. - NSTpic

KOTA KINABALU: In true spirit of the Pesta Kaamatan, Sabah's usual political divide took another unfamiliar twist with government and opposition politicians setting aside their differences to celebrate the occasion.

If on the first day of the festivities on Wednesday, Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kiat and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok joined in with opposition PBS leader Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) building, yesterday, it was just the other way round.

Pairin was at the Sabah Cultural Centre to celebrate with government dignitaries and the people to celebrate the government-sponsored festivity.

Datuk Chong broke the ice to become the first Barisan Nasional chief minister to attend the association's Harvest Festival open house since 1994. He was given a traditional welcome with a sigah placed on his head by members of the association as Pairin, the Kadazandusun community's Huguan Siou (or Paramount Leader) escorted him.

"I am here on my own accord as I was invited. I am here to greet the Huguan Siou, leaders and members of KDCA, and join them in celebrating this special occasion," said Chong.

He said it was a cultural event and the presence of various leaders, including Dompok, who is also Parti Upko president Tan Sri Bernard augurs well for cultural unity.

Pairin, who heads the KDCA, said Chong's presence was "very good for the state and its people." "We celebrate Kaamatan together in the spirit of brotherhood. This must be emphasised and the only way to do it is for top leaders to participate," said Pairin, who is president of opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah.

The relationship between the Barisan state government and the association has been strained since the coalition toppled Pairin's PBS state government in 1994.

Pairin seemed to have adopted a more compromising approach when on May 1, he attended the state-level Kaamatan launch in Tamparuli for the first time in seven years.

Meanwhile, at yesterday's official function, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the government is committed to play a bigger role in the celebration of festivals of the various races in the country.

He said this was in line with the recognition accorded to the unique cultures and traditions in the country and also the appreciation of the various races of the festivals celebrated by any of the other races.

"The Federal Government wants to be part of all the celebrations. We wish to give meaningfulness and respect to the various races and as such the government will play a bigger role than before in the celebration of the festivals of the various races.

(By Catherine Ong)

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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Friday, June 01, 2001

  • Warming of BN-PBS relations sparks talk
  • Closing ranks in spirit of Kaamatan
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