KOTA KINABALU: The traditional rhythms of Borneo reverberated in the air as Malaysians closed the month-long National Day celebrations with a spectacular show here, last night.
The occasion was even more meaningful for Sabahans who gained their independence by becoming a member of the federation together with fellow Borneo neighbour Sarawak on Sept 16, 1963.
The festivity also marked the birthday celebrations of the state’s Yang di-Pertua Negri, Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah.
Multi-racial Malaysia came to life with the indigenous people in their traditional costumes and all races joining hands to witness the cultural extravaganza at Likas Sports Complex here last night.
Clear evening skies drew large crowds of people as early as 4pm to witness the event, that kicked off with the arrival of Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Timbalan Yang diPertuan Agong, and his consort Permaisuri Nur Zahira at 8.30pm.
Against the backdrop of the musical medley, the Sounds of Borneo, the royal couple was ferried in a traditional lepa lepa boat of the Semporna Sea Bajaus.
They were led by Sabah’s famous Bajau horsemen, or “cowboys of the East” bearing the flags of all the 13 states and the Federal Territory, with entertainers carrying 46 golden bunga manggar, to denote the nation’s years of independence.
The performance comprising traditional musical instruments of Sabah and Sarawak, such as the sompoton and siuling wind instruments, the kuling tangan or mini gongs and string instrument sape, reflected the uniqueness of the two states in Malaysia’s Borneo.
Sultan Mizan accepted a Jalur Gemilang from former Sabah Chief Minister, Tan Sri Peter Lo, before the flag was raised by the Royal Malaysian Navy to the tune of the Negara Ku.
A video clip in appreciation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad was shown to the crowd, with the event telecast live to the nation.
The festivities continued with songs from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and dancers performing the evergreen Malay joget, traditional Chinese dragon dances, Indian dances as well as ethnic dances from Sabah and Sarawak.
A bangsawan depicting royal Malay warriors preceded the highlight of evening, which was a 20-minute fireworks display, shortly before midnight as Sultan Mizan and his consort left.
The month-long celebration was launched on Aug 17 in Malacca.
This was the second time that Sabah had played host to the closing ceremony – the first was in 2000.
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