The communities in Sabah should reflect on the significance of Tadau Kaamatan or harvest festival in order to close ranks and strengthen unity for the progress of the state.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said this was because the annual festival, commonly celebrated by the Kadazandusun Murut community on May 30-31, was associated with giving thanks for a bountiful rice harvest that contributed to friendship among the various indigenous and ethnic groups in the state.
“Although the planting of paddy is no longer a major agricultural practice, this festival is still an integral part of our local culture. Communities here respect and celebrate it as a mark of gratitude,” he said in his Kaamatan message here Sunday.
Musa said over the decades, Sabah has experienced growth and progress in terms of infrastructure and also has more bustling urban centres today.
He said locals now have better access to education and training opportunities and were contributing to the state through their chosen fields.
“This, combined with the fact that we are a melting pot of more than 30 ethnic groups, gives us a competitive advantage within Malaysia and the region.
“Our steadfastness in staying united and our commitment to work together encourage us to learn from one another and are positive factors in our quest to achieve more progress for Sabah,” he said.
In this regard, the chief minister reminded the people not to give in to attempts by certain quarters to damage ties among the people of various backgrounds.
“I call on Malaysians in Sabah to not succumb to such thinking. Calls by certain quarters for Sabah to leave the Malaysian federation are irresponsible and will only lead to division among the people,” he said.
Musa also said Sabah was on track in achieving the various developments outlined in the State Development Agenda or Halatuju introduced over a decade ago, with a focus on agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
“The Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) launched in 2008 has further strengthened our quest to focus on the three areas outlined by the State Development Agenda.
“We are also participating actively in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the Malaysia Plans, as a way to bring holistic and meaningful progress to the people of Sabah, regardless of where they live,” he said.
He also noted that Sabah was a large state making it necessary to close the gap between regions, especially those located in the interior, by continuing to focus on poverty eradication programmes and ensuring more school-leavers get the opportunity to study at a higher level, including at skills centres.
Musa also called on youths in Sabah to explore the opportunities available and help turn the state into a vibrant region within Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
To ensure successful implementation of the state government’s plans and policies, the chief minister said security remained the state’s priority, with the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) always ensuring that citizens and visitors felt safe while in Sabah.