KOTA KINABALU: The rainy weather did not stop thousands of Malaysians and foreign tourists from attending the national-level 2018 Christmas Open House here.
One of the visitors, who only wanted to be known as Syahnira, 18, said she came with her family to enjoy the performances by Malaysian artistes up close despite the intermittent rain.
“The weather wasn’t great, but I had fun!” she said of the event, which took place at Padang Merdeka on Saturday.
Syahnira, who is from the Bajau ethnic group, said although this event was held for those celebrating Christmas, people from different races and religions also came to celebrate the festival together.
“This showcases the uniqueness of Sabah,” she said.
Andrew Arlanthu returns to Kota Kinabalu every year for the Christmas celebrations after he married his Kadazandusun wife from Penampang a few years ago.
“This is my third year attending a Christmas event in this city. Although we arrived late, I can say for certain that this year’s celebration was much better than the last,” said the 38-year-old.
His wife Laura Peter, 29, said the Christmas open house was very entertaining and represented the cultural diversity of Sabah.
“Not only Sabahans, but people from all over the world come here for the open house,” she said.
The couple were at the event with their one-year-old son Jaaiydan.
Thousands of people did not mind the drizzle when the event began at 8.30pm.
The show was divided into four segments to showcase Sabah’s cultural diversity. It also featured a performance by local band Atmosfera, whose music video Original Sabahan garnered 16 million views since its release earlier this year.
Christmas-themed skits and performances with a Sabahan touch also thrilled the crowd.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who launched the open house, called on Malaysians of all ethnic groups and faiths to work together as one to help move the country to greater heights.
She also urged the people to avoid inciting hatred, hurling insults and slandering others as this would destroy Malaysia’s unity.
“We want to ensure the country’s development agenda can be realised and the hopes of the people can be fulfilled,” she said.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who was represented by his deputy Datuk Christina Liew at the event, said Malaysians must steer away from the destructive politics of race and religion.
In his speech read by Liew, Shafie said the people should instead focus on building Malaysia together despite their racial or religious differences.
He said Sabah was a fine example of a multi-ethnic society where people lived in harmony and respected one another despite their different backgrounds.