KOTA KINABALU: The Kaamatan festival here closed with much pleasantry when Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Huguan Siou Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan hugged on stage, setting a tone that will likely see politics kept out of Sabah culture.
Shafie shared the stage with the Kadazandusun Murut paramount leader together with the event’s main committee chairman Datuk Peter Anthony and state Cabinet ministers during the closing ceremony yesterday.
Pairin, who is Parti Bersatu Sabah’s premier adviser, did not attend last year’s celebration despite being invited after the change of government, which saw him no longer heading the festival’s organising committee.
However, he stopped by at Hongkod Koisaan Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association – the venue for the annual festival – on Thursday, and attended the closing ceremony yesterday morning where he also delivered a speech.
“I am pleased to have the Huguan Siou with us. We must move forward towards better things for the next generation and not think only about ourselves,” Shafie told reporters after the closing ceremony.
Shafie, in his speech earlier, thanked Pairin for his many contributions as Huguan Siou that led to the promotion of the Kaamatan festival and the community.
He said that his wife Datin Seri Shuryani Shuaib and him were adamant about joining in the Kaamatan celebrations despite this being the fasting month as the festival was synonym with the Kadazandusun community.
Pairin, in his speech, said: “We know change is constant in life and I am welcoming any changes that are good for us.
“The Huguan Siou will also be replaced (in future) when I am no longer around and a new one is appointed.
“Kaamatan has always been meaningful and beneficial to everybody.”
With seven beats of the gong by Shafie, the month-long Kaamatan was officially closed.
Shuryani made a surprising move, starting the sumazau (traditional dance) along with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew and Unduk Ngadau competition committee joint chairperson Joanna Kitingan.
Shafie also spoke on the importance of rejecting religious extremism and racism in a diverse society like Sabah, and that the differences should instead be seen as a strength.
This year’s Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) went to Francisca Ester Nain, 25, who aspires to be a teacher in native Kadazandusun language. She bagged RM100,000 worth of prizes.
She beat 63 other contestants from all over Sabah for the 2019 Kaamatan Festival beauty pageant, wowing judges with her wonderful grasp of the native Dusun Tindal language.
Second and third place winners were Annette Rabecca Januin @ Abdon and Leticia Casianus Bansin, respectively.