By THOMAS THAM
PENAMPANG: Kerinah Mah, the 22-year old lass who represented Kota Kinabalu at the state-level Kaamatan pageant was crowned Unduk Ngadau 2017 at the Hongkod Koisaan KDCA, here early Wednesday night.
She was voted the fairest of the 44 beauties that took part in the two-day finals, taking home with her prizes worth more than RM73,000. This included an RM6,000 cash prize, an ATI scholarship worth RM25,000, an Almacrest scholarship worth RM20,000, a return air ticket to Bangkok, and other sponsored items.
Kerinah was crowned Kota Kinabalu Unduk Ngadau two weeks ago.
Shareene Francis Loudin who represented Penampang and Arveyna Pamella Januin @ Abdon from Papar were named first and second runners-up respectively.
Shareene received prizes worth RM11,480 which included RM4,000 cash, while Arveyna received prizes worth RM9,660, of which RM3,000 was in cash.
Angel Sungkadhamai Marshal @ Linus (Likas), Bibiana Artecca James (Tambunan), Sharlina Gilbert Mojinun (Klang Valley) and Vanessa Claria (Tuaran) respectively took fourth, fifth, sixth and seven places.
The result was announced at about 7.50pm, to an eager crowd that packed the Hongkod Koisaan hall.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Musa Aman cut paddy stalks as a symbol of the harvest and hit the traditional gong to close the state-level Kaamatan Festival.
Accompanying him was deputy Chief Minister and Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun Paramount leader), Joseph Pairin Kitingan, deputy Chief Minister Yahya Hussein and Sabah Tourism, Culture, Environment minister Masidi Manjun, along with federal Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau.
Musa who announced the state government has approved an RM1 million allocation to upgrade and repair KDCA building, also said in his speech:
“I urge the people of Sabah, regardless of their cultural differences, to continue support the government so efforts to develop the state can be successfully implemented.
“The harvest festival has proven that the culture is still progressive and has ignored the difference in politics, ethnicity, and religion. It has even strengthened the spirit of 1Malaysia.”
Musa also hoped the Kaamatan festival would continue to be a catalyst for inspiration and strength to the people in ensuring stability, peace and harmony.
In a Kaamatan message, Musa said Sabah remained a melting pot with our diverse ethnic groups who live in harmony, and the unity we enjoy in Sabah is an example for Malaysia.
He added that the festival is also testimony to the importance and significance of upholding cultural values among indigenous communities.
“Our steadfastness in staying united and our commitment to working together encourages us to learn from one another, and are positive factors in our quest to achieve more progress for Sabah.
The Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association ground was packed with thousands of people – many dressed in the traditional finery – from all walks of life and creed and the intermittent downpour on both days failed to dampen the spirits of the revelers.
There was plenty of traditional indigenous food for the picking along with the ever popular barbecued chicken wings and burgers containing all types of meat.
Beer, and local brews like lihing and tapai flowed nonstop as those who patronized the various ‘hamin’ – traditional houses – took advantage of cheaper prices for their favourite thirst quencher.
But this year’s Kaamatan will be remembered for the wrong reason, sadly.
That was when two contestants turned up from Banggi, with both saying they were the rightful representative from the island off Kudat. But that is a different story altogether best left to the Assistant District Officer of Banggi to settle the controversy.