KDCA and stall operator settle dispute with traditional salt ceremony

KOTA KINABALU: A dispute between the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) and a private stall operator was recently resolved with the use of salt.

KDCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the issue centred around a parking lot opposite the main entrance to the Hongkod Koisaan, where the state-level Kaamatan Festival is celebrated.

Although Kitingan did not elaborate further, it was learned that the stalls, operating on privately owned land, had not consulted KDCA. The space was previously used as a parking lot for visitors to the Hongkod Koisaan, the traditional host of the Kaamatan Festival.

In response to KDCA’s comments, the stall operator announced that the public was forbidden from passing through the area to reach Hongkod Koisaan.

"Sometimes, when there are problems in an agreement, words that shouldn't be said are uttered," Kitingan said.

"To resolve the issue, we held a 'pibabasan' (peacemaking) ceremony, part of the Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) culture, where representatives from both parties feed each other salt."

Speaking at a press conference on the state-level Kaamatan Festival on Wednesday (May 29), the state Deputy Chief Minister I and Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister said the peacemaking ceremony was held in public.

"The KDCA Council of Elders brought the salt in a container, so both the operator and I took the salt from there and ate it," he said.

Kitingan also announced that RM2.5mil had been allocated for this year’s Kaamatan, distributed among KDCA branches across the state.

He noted that while there was a proposal to elevate the festival to a national level, the focus would first be on expanding KDCA branches to other states in Malaysia for greater representation.

Kaamatan, widely regarded as the largest and most significant cultural festival in Sabah and Malaysia, was launched on May 1 in Ranau. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to officially close the month-long festival on May 31.

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