Lack of concern blamed for Gawai and Kaamatan exclusion from “Cuti-Cuti Malaysia”

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah – Picture from The Star

By Emma Victoria

GAWAI Dayak and Hari Kaamatan, the two major festivals celebrated in Sarawak and Sabah, were not included in the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia programme and this has been attributed to a lack of concern from past federal tourism ministers.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the two harvest festivals should have been in the itinerary ages ago given how colourful and grand they have been celebrated in the two Borneo states.

Thus, he supported the federal Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri’s proposal to include the two celebrations in the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia itinerary, he told Borneo Post.

“The absence of the two festivals in the itinerary showed the lack of concern from past (federal) ministers for tourism and  I’m glad that Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, who is a Sarawakian, is able to see it,” he said.

“Maybe past (federal) tourism ministers only know religious festivals in Malaya and promoted them,” he said.

In a press conference yesterday, Shukri said although Kaamatan and Gawai were public holidays for Sabah and Sarawak, it was important for people of other states to know and understand the culture and traditions behind these two festivals.

“I take this positively as a way of showing our (Sabah and Sarawak) openness and the strong feeling of unity among us.”

“Sabahans and Sarawakians want people from outside Borneo to come and see for themselves their culture and traditions and how the harvest festivals are celebrated by the native groups in both states,” she said.

She also said by including Kaamatan and Gawai in the list of festive holidays, it would allow Malaysians to plan their holidays as well as embrace diversity in the country.