KOTA KINABALU: Tourists are not encouraged to give food when harassed by the local community, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Assaffal Alian.
He was referring to the video of a tourist boat being surrounded by a group of sea gypsies, believed to be the Bajau Laut, which went viral earlier this week.
The video, which seemed to depict the women and children asking tourists for food, had since received mixed reactions from netizens.
However, Assaffal said there was no proof to indicate the incident happened near here, adding that it is under investigation.
“Investigations are currently being conducted by Sabah Ministry of Tourism and Culture director and we will issue a statement thereafter. Till then, it is too early for us to make a conclusion.”
He said this to reporters after closing the Francis Cheong Exhibition at the Sabah Art Gallery yesterday.
Assaffal, who represented Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister cum Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew, said the exhibition was a way to ensure the legacy of local artists lives on and continues to be enjoyed by generations to come.
“The devotion of Francis Cheong in shaping the world of visual art in Sabah made him an icon and proprietor of the craft. His involvement and dedication to the arts should be exemplified by budding artists,” said Assaffal.
He hoped that similar exhibitions would continue to be held in future, as inspiration to art lovers and patrons to create art not only with one scope, but in many ways.
The Francis Cheong Retrospective Exhibition featured 155 paintings and 100 pottery wares, consisting mainly of the artist’s cubist and abstract work as well as batik paintings.
All of Francis’ works were inspired by the culture and landscape of Sabah, from batik paintings of orangutan to water villages and motifs on his pots, namely Murut and Rungus patterns.