KOTA KINABALU: A 30m-tall Christmas tree will symbolise religious harmony in multi-cultural Malaysia when the national Christmas open house is held at the Likas sports complex here on Saturday.
The tree and presents wrapped in various colours will add to the meaning of Christmas being the season of giving and sharing.
The open house concept is truly a Malaysian way of life, and Sabah which is hosting this years national level celebrations hopes to make a mark in the Malaysia Book of Records with the tallest tree.
The King and Queen will be the guests of honour and the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry and state government have planned an elaborate programme for an anticipated 100,000 crowd.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah will join in the celebrations starting at 4pm until midnight.
Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has also been invited and she is sending her official representative for the occasion.
According to a statement from the state tourism arm (Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd), the highlights of the evening include schoolchildren singing Christmas songs, a candlelit procession, renditions of popular carols performed by members of the Sabah Council of Churches and the lighting of the giant Christmas tree culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.
Popular musicians such as Francesca Peter, Alleycats, Vince of the Akademi Fantasia, Deja Moss, Gary Chow, Abu Bakar, Ella and Clarice John will also be entertaining.
Also invited are the beauty queens from 35 countries vying for the Miss Tourism International 2003 finals in Kuala Lumpur on New Years Eve.
Although, the weather is under the pall of a tropical storm currently blowing in southern Philippines, preparations for the Christmas Open House have been joyous for Sabahans.
The weatherman expects a wet Christmas but in the best of Malaysian tradition, be it rain or shine, this national Christmas celebration will surely be a day to remember for everyone.
Today, Christians will hold their own open houses with Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok holding his at Sabah Cultural Centre near here between 10am to 4pm.
Kadazandusun paramount leader Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan holds his Parti Bersatu Sabah open house at Hongkod Koissan hall here between 11am to 3pm.
The open house of Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president Tan Sri Joseph Kurupwill be at Keningau community centre from 11am to 3pm.
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