Pairin says Anwar is 'first PM at Kaamatan celebrations' despite Dr M's presence in 1994

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan has said that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is the "first Malaysian Prime Minister" to grace the state's Kaamatan celebrations, despite the fact that former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended the celebrations back in 1994.

Pairin, who is also Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community), said this during the closing of the month-long harvest festival in Penampang near here on Wednesday (May 31).

"Today is a special and historical day because the Prime Minister, the father of unity and Malaysia Madani, is celebrating Kaamatan with us.

"Before this, there had never been a leader who is a prime minister who celebrated Kaamatan together with us," he said to cheers from the crowd.

It is rare for a sitting prime minister to join the cultural festival and the last prime minister to do so was Dr Mahathir in 1994.

He was there three months after Barisan Nasional toppled the PBS state government led by Pairin in March that year.

Pairin, who was Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) president in 1994, did not attend the state-level celebrations that year.

In his speech later during the Kaamatan closing, Anwar expressed thanks to Pairin.

"I am touched when Pairin said this was the first time a prime minister has attended this event but I believe this will not be the last time. Next week, I will also attend the Gawai celebrations in Sarawak," he said.

Anwar also said that he had approved a RM1mil allocation for KDCA, which also organises the state-level Kaamatan festivities.

"Although Pairin did not ask for it, I have agreed to give a RM1mil allocation to the KDCA for their activities," he said to loud applause from the crowd.

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