KOTA KINABALU: The hosting of the State Kaamatan Festival opening ceremony will return to Tambunan this year with the organizer expecting at least 30,000 Malaysians and tourists to throng the district for the much anticipated annual event held officially since the 1960s.
Deputy Chief Minister cum State-level Kaamatan Main Organizing Committee chairman Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan in informing this yesterday, said the decision had been approved by the State Cabinet and preparations were already underway to ensure a smooth festive celebration.
“I have directed the District Officer to make the necessary preparations, including for side event to be held for the celebration, which is the Tambunan Kaamatan Charity Run that will be held on April 25,” he told reporters after chairing the committee’s first meeting at the Public Works Department building in Sembulan yesterday.
Over 100 runners are expected to take part in the charity run, which will have two categories, namely Veteran and Special.
Pairin, who is also the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) huguan siou (paramount leader), said the theme chosen for the Kaamatan celebration this year is ‘Peace and Unity Through Culture’, in line with the emphasis placed by the government on strengthening inter-racial understanding and tolerance among the people.
“In today’s world, we need to stress on peace and unity and Kaamatan as one of the major festivals in the country, indeed plays an important role in bringing the people from different background together,” he said.
Pairin said the hosting of the celebration would promote Tambunan as a travel destination to locals and foreigners, especially those attending the opening.
The event, he said, has long served as catalyst for tourism-related activities, especially traditional clothing and handicrafts, food and beverage, and cultural and arts performances.
Pairin who is also Tambunan assemblyman, said apart from its unique culture, the district dubbed by the locals as the Switzerland of the east, has a lot of natural attractions to offer, from clean fresh air to unique fauna and flora.
He noted the Trusmadi forest reserve in Tambunan is home to the smallest orchid species known in the world. A new edible mushroom that could grow up to 2.5 feet wide, was also recently identified in the forest.
“Another place of interest that I would suggest you to visit is the Mahua waterfall. It was known to be used for meditation in ancient time and the cold refreshing water there keeps flowing even during the long drought.
“I would also like to suggest the locals wear their traditional clothing when attending the event, to showcase our colourful culture and traditions,” he said.
Tambunan last hosted the Kaamatan opening ten years ago.
Pairin said all agencies involved were working with one another to coordinate all aspects of the celebrations to ensure Tambunan would be fully prepared to accommodate the visitors, who will include Commonwealth Parliamentary Association representatives from over 35 countries, who coincidentally would be in the State for a three-day meeting and have indicated their interest to attend the ceremony.
“The last time we hosted Kaamatan in Tambunan, we had some serious problems with the traffic but this time we are coordinating everything to ensure we are better prepared,” he said.
The launching in Tambunan is expected to be officiated by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is also scheduled to officiate at the Kaamatan Traditional Sports event at KDCA on May 30.
The closing on May 31 is expected to be graced by Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.
Pairin also informed that several districts have finalized and submitted the date for their district-level Kaamatan, including Keningau which will hold the event on May 2, Klang Valley (May 3), Tongod (May 7), Kuala Penyu together with Menumbok (May 9) and Matunggong and Sipitang (May 14).
The Kota Kinabalu City Hall will also start its three-day celebration on May 14.
Other districts that have confirmed their dates are Penampang, Kudat and Sandakan (May 16), Tamparuli and Tuaran (May 17), Putatan (May 19), Tenom (May 23) and Kota Belud (May 24).
The Tambunan Unduk Ngadau gala night will be held on May 21.
The closing date for registration of the State-level Unduk Ngadau is on May 27.