KOTA KINABALU: This year, the annual Sabah Fest will do away with its usual three-night theatre show and instead bring free performances to malls and public spaces.
The event normally held as an opener during Kaamatan month in May, was shifted to this month due to Ramadan month.
To be launched on Saturday (June 15) at Laman Seni in the Sabah Cultural Board building, the fest is returning to its roots of offering free cultural shows to the public at accessible areas like shopping complexes.
Sabah Tourism Board (STB) acting general manager Noredah Othman said in the past the three-night theatre extravaganza (where tickets were sold) was not enough to showcase the cultures to visiting tourists.
"This time around we are going back to the original idea. About 10 years ago, we always have it at different malls - what we want is to reach out to the public and to the tourists," she said in a press conference on the event on Thursday (June 13).
Traditional dance performances are expected to be lined up at venues like Oceanus Waterfront Mall, Imago mall, Centre Point Sabah, Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Suria Sabah mall, and night market on Gaya street as well as the weekly Sunday market at Lintasan Deasoka from Sunday (June 16) to July 7.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said efforts to promote cultural shows will not end there, as there are plans to pursue scheduled performances after Sabah Fest ends.
"I had a meeting with STB and Cultural Board and we agree to look at a suitable place, perhaps the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang, to have regular fixed performances showcasing various dancers done in rotation, as there are 35 ethnic groups with over 200 sub-ethnics.
"We will discuss this with the tour industry to include as part of their tourism products, where they can also include dinner packages, " she added.
On another matter, Liew when asked about calls to set up an independent monitoring watchdog for a gold mining operation in Tawau, said at present there was already a mechanism to monitor such activities, done by the state's Environmental Protection Department (EPD).
"I won't say now that there is no need (for independent monitoring body) … it is good that people are showing interest in protecting the environment.
"We do have our own department at hand to monitor environmental issues, not only on gold mining but also other developments, I hope the environmental groups and activists understand.
"EPD will go through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, and it is very serious that every project obtained approval.
"We will be monitoring closely (on the gold mining)," she said.