Suggestion to make Kaamataan a national holiday welcomed

The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) has welcomed State Assembly Speaker Salleh Said Keruak’s suggestion that the federal government should recognise the state-level Kaamatan Festival, observed annually on May 31, as a national-level celebration.

Deputy President Dr Clarence Bongkos Malakun said the move would allow the celebration to be organised on a larger scale.

“In the past, we had to rely heavily on sponsorships from corporate companies every year to make this event a success, since the state government could only give us a limited allocation.

“If it is elevated to a national celebration, then we hope we will get a higher allocation,” he told reporters after signing a sponsorship agreement with DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd for the Kaamatan Festival, today.

On Sunday, Salleh said that a national-level Kaamatan Festival would be in line with the government’s goals under the 1Malaysia concept, which aims for unity within a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

Malakun, who is also the chairman of the Kaamatan Festival Coordinating Committee, said the Tourism Ministry and the Information Communication and Culture Ministry could play large roles in organising the festival given that it was one of Sabah’s biggest tourist attractions, and promoted the cultures and traditions of the Kadazandusun and Murut.

He also said that KDCA would be flexible in considering a shift from the traditional Hongkod Koisaan venue in Penampang, near here, to a larger venue, like the Kota Kinabalu Sports Complex, to accommodate an increasing crowd.

However, he hoped that the government would consider expanding the Hongkod Koisaan to maintain the cultural significance that the Kaamatan Festival had long been associated with.

Regarding Digi’s sponsorship, Sabah Regional Head Ng Chak Khin said it was the company’s third consecutive year of involvement in the annual festival, adding that Digi had a long-term commitment to support the people of Sabah during one of their most important festivals.

He also announced that Digi would give away 40 smartphones in a lucky draw from May 29 to 31 at the Hongkod Koisaan.

– Bernama