KOTA KINABALU, May 15 – The Kaamatan Festival as an original heritage of Sabah must be defended and capitalised to boost the tourism sector in the state, said the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak. He said in this regard, he hoped the Kota Kinabalu City Hall would continue to organise Kaamatan (harvest) festivals continuously every year and draw up comprehensive programmes in the city so that the Kaamatan mood could be felt not only by the city dwellers but also tourists.
He said that the Kaamatan Festival is only found in Sabah and rightly we should promote it and simultaneously lure more tourists to this state. He said this when closing the Kota Kinabalu-level Kaamatan Festival at Padang Merdeka, here, Saturday night. Commenting on the two-day carnival which opened yesterday, Salleh said the festival would not only promote interaction among the people of various races but also inculcate mutual respect between one another for a harmonious environment.
“The Kaamatan festival involves the cooperation and efforts of various races and ethnic groups which directly portray the unity, goodwill and understanding among the residents in the city. This is in line with the theme of the Kaamatan festival this year which is ‘Peace and Friendship’. I believe the Kaamatan festival could be promoted as a tourism product apart from being a platform to strengthen national unity especially in Sabah which has more than 30 ethnic groups and more than 50 language dialects,” he said.
Meanwhile, Salleh called on the people in the state to appreciate the sacrifice and struggle of leaders and communities to ensure Sabah continued to exist in peace and harmony. In this regard, he said it was important for the people of various races in the state to be united, maintain solidarity and mutual understanding for the progress of the state and nation.
“We must work and struggle together in combating the various challenges mounted by irresponsible elements on the country’s economy and security. We are very fortunate to be able to celebrate various festivals including the Kaamatan (Harvest) festival peacefully in the country. Unlike in some countries or places where there are racial conflicts, let us jointly defend this peaceful environment prevailing in our country,” he said.
In another development, Salleh said the ministry was proposing to provide free WiFi service in the city centre here. He said the allocation for the free WiFi service would be fully borne by KKMM. He said, for this purpose, I will be holding discussions with Kota Kinabalu Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai shortly.
He said his ministry wanted to put Kota Kinabalu on par with other cities which also have free WiFi services. He also added that with the service, the people, especially the youngsters would be able to surf the internet for free and facilitate communication when in this city.