KOTA KINABALU: Talents and skills of indigenous communities will be paramount in portraying the state’s rare and uniquely diverse heritage during the 2015 Sabah Fest, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.
He said the ministry would pursue an authentic production by transforming the festival into another avenue that will truly unearth, nurture and showcase local talents beyond the realms of the Sabah Cultural Board (LKS).
“We are not engaging the Sabah Cultural Board performers this year because we want to train and extend the opportunity to new faces. The ministry also wants to expand the search of dance talents in Sabah outside of the confinements of the ministry’s Sabah Cultural Board,” explained the minister during the festival’s press conference here yesterday.
However, Masidi said the ministry would not completely exclude LKS from the production.
“We will use the board’s in-house choreographers for the show. I am a person who likes to give opportunities to our own people. The show will be choreographed by locals,” he clarified.
He said the ministry would also increase the existing language accessibility of this year’s Sabah Fest to cater for locals as well as foreign visitors of the event and amplify foreign influences in the state in the showcase through elements such as music.
The three-day festival, to be held at the National Department for Culture and Arts in Sabah (JKKNS) from May 1 to 3, will revolve around the cultures and legends of indigenous communities found in localities around the state’s “Agop”, which means cave in Ida’an language, stated the minister.
“Agop” is familiar to Sabah’s rarely known East Coast communities, namely the Ida’an, Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan, who identify with the mysterious ancient cave culture, tradition and practices.
Our caves have played an important role in East Coast Sabah’s civilization growth and the establishment of a trade centre there, said Masidi.
“We will exhibit the cave findings that have triggered the commercialization of the bird’s nest product that has lured the people of China to come here since then and till today,” he stated while adding that communities would also have likely established trade with sultanates in Kalimantan and surrounding Kingdoms.
Sabah Fest will stage the “Agop” musical show daily throughout the festival and hold a special premier show on April 2 this year, which will be attended by the Head of State and Chief Minister, said Masidi.
According to Masidi, the musical theatre will depict the love story of a beautiful Kinabatangan lass, who, at a crossroads in her life, had to choose between living a royal and civilized life with Ming Dynasty Admiral Ong Seng Ping or the destitute life filled with animism in Kinabatangan as an engaged woman.
Some 350, including 140 performers, from seven ethnic groups hailing from five districts in Sabah will partake in the festival.
Representatives from Lahad Datu’s Dusun Subpan from Kampung Segama, Dusun Begak from Tungku and Ida’an from Kampung Sepagaya are invited to showcase their culture and musical traditions through performances in Sabah Fest.
The Orang Sungai from Sandakan, Tidung from Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh from Paitan and Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud will also be showcasing their cultural heritage there.
Upon arrival, guests will be greeted by 100-strong welcoming troupe playing the traditional bamboo musical instrument “tagunggak” and Murut gong.
Some 80 dancers from private and non-governmental organizations, schools and universities such as Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Teknologi MARA and SM Maktab Sabah will also take part in the event.
Traditional handicraft and food will also be showcased at the JKKNS compound daily from 4pm to 10pm and pocket shows will be available at various shopping malls and locations like Centre Point Sabah, Suria Sabah, Oceanus Waterfront Mall, City Mall, Sabah Museum and Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
Sabah’s talented craft-makers and artisans will be featured during the event and weavers, bead makers, musicians and artists from Sabah will be featured at Sabah souvenirs and handicrafts shop, Kadaiku, in Sinsuran complex throughout the month of May.
This year’s sponsors, Yayasan Sabah, SEDIA, Sabah Energy Corporation, Shell Malaysia, Telekom Malaysia and Angkatan Hebat are symbolic of the good cooperation between the government and the private sector, said Masidi.
Tickets for the stage performance, which starts at 8pm daily, are sold at RM50 per show. For more information on the program, brought to the public by LKS and organized by Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, visit www.sabahfest.com or contact Sri Pelancongan event executive Francesca Lydia at +6088232121 or email [email protected]