TAWAU: The International Cultural Festival here is the right platform to showcase Sabah’s unique unity, peace and harmony enjoyed by its multi-racial and religious people.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman said apart from assisting to promote tourism such festival was also the best platform to continue preserving culture, particularly among the younger generation.
“I am very proud to see the spirit and commitment as well as involvement of the people from all walks of life what more many youths are participating to make this event a success,” he said at the opening of the third edition of the festival in the Municipal Council compound in Fajar here yesterday.
About 50,000 people attended the festival featuring cultural performances from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Syria as well as 25 sub-ethnic groups.
Musa said this was a positive sign for the nation’s future especially in the context of further galvanising unity, togetherness and harmony of the people from all backgrounds, religions and ethnicity in line with the 1Malaysia spirit.
According to him, the situation was what makes Sabah beautiful.
“This is the joy for us living in Sabah … we live in peace and harmony, we can sit down together and celebrate all the celebrations,” he said
Musa said it was also the aspiration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to see the people of Malaysia live in peace and harmony under the 1Malaysia concept.
Sabah was also proud since Najib had said that the State was among the states that can be the role model of the 1Malaysia concept.
“That is why we always called on the people in Tawau, Sabah and the whole country to ensure we continue to live in peace,” he said.
Musa also cautioned the people against falling into the trap of the opposition who only aimed at creating chaos such as through street demonstration, among others.
“We don’t want this unhealthy culture and what we want is to continue living in peace and enjoying good economic development,” he said, adding that the people in Sabah must be thankful for the sensitivity of the Prime Minister.
As for the State Government, Musa said it was taking various approaches including providing for a huge State Budget in order for the people to continue social and economic development that comes with peace and harmony.
“I am also amaze with the commitment of the organiser to invite international participation not only from this region but other countries from the Asia continents and Middle East,” he said.
Towards this end, he said the State Government welcomed the organiser’s efforts and initiative to take various kind of approaches in order to make the festival more attractive.
Three years ago, he said leaders from the district, namely Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan and Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh had discussed with him on creating something good for the people here to celebrate together just like in other districts such as the Kalimaran Festival, among others.
“So the Tawau International Cultural Festival was born,” he said, adding the festival had enabled the people to see various cultures of not only the various sub-ethnic groups in the state but also from other countries.
“What is important is that we continue to preserve our strong unity and I hope the festival will continue to be the catalyst of the district’s economic development,” he said
Meanwhile, Tawau Municipal Council President Datuk Haji Ismail Mayakob expressed gratitude to the State Government under Musa for the unwavering support to the festival.
He said it reflected that the State Government prioritise the local economic development through promotion of tourism, which is among the objectives of the festival.
“The essence of the festival is community driven, participation from each sub-ethnic group,” he said, adding this year’s concept was a bit different from previously where it features folk song, dancing and playing of traditional music instruments.
Among those on hand were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran, Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan, Assistant Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Ghapur Salleh, assemblymen, Sabah Cultural Board Chairman Datuk Wences Angang and foreign consuls.