KOTA KINABALU(Feb 12): Every single festival, including Hari Raya, Pesta Kaamatan and Christmas, will be celebrated on a big scale in Sabah from now onwards following the grand 2024 Chinese New Year Open House celebration.
Organising chairman Datuk Christina Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, described the celebration as one with a difference, being held in the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) for the first time on Saturday.
“The State Government is putting its heart into the celebration because we want to be with the people. With the people’s support as reflected in their overwhelming response to government-organised events, we will celebrate every single festival, including Hari Raya, Pesta Kaamatan and Christmas, on a big scale from now onwards.
“This is the beauty of Sabah where all communities, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, congregate under one roof to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year and other fests,” she said.
More than 10,000 people from all walks of life thronged the iconic SICC to join in the 2024 Chinese New Year Open House celebration organised by the State Government and Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS).
Head of State Tun Datuk Seri Panglima (Dr) Haji Juhar Datuk Haji Mahiruddin and His Consort, Toh Puan Datuk Seri Panglima (Dr) Hajah Norlidah Tan Sri Datuk R.M. Jasni graced the auspicious occasion, together with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor and his wife, Datuk Juliah Salag.
Tun Juhar and Toh Puan Norlidah were given the honour to give out “ang pows” to members of the Sabah Association of Senior Citizens, and Persatuan Kecergasan dan Pembangunan Orang Tua Kota Kinabalu (KOAT).
Liew said the presence of about 400 people from 38 native ethnic groups in Sabah, clad in their respective traditional costumes, added to the festive atmosphere, not to mention the members of 15 Chinese clan associations as well as several hundred international tourists from various countries.
Among the guests were the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu, Dr Huang Shifang, Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu, Bapa Rafail, Federal Secretary to Sabah Dato’ Makhzan Mahyuddin, Sabah’s Deputy Speakers Datuk Al Hambra Tun Juhar and Datuk Richard Yong, Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mustapha Sakmud and Deputy Minister of Plantations and Commodities Datuk Chan Foong Hin.
Also present were State Secretary Datuk Ir Safar Untong, Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Ir Shahelmey Yahya, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, Minister of Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Datuk Ginger Phoong, Minister of Rural Development Datuk Jahid Jahim, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif, President of FCAS Tan Sri T.C. Goh, and President of the United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu (USCCAKK), Datuk Susan Wong.
Highlights of the 2024 Chinese New Year celebration included dances staged by 75 lions, unicorns and dragons, a firecrackers display, a welcoming dance by the Sabah Cultural Board depicting the racial and cultural diversity of Sabah, Yee Sang (or Prosperity Toss) ceremony, cultural dances by secondary school students, and an impressive instrumental performance by 14-year-old budding saxophonist Zara Goh Flintoft.