SIPITANG: Chief Minister Musa Aman wants the people in Sabah to defend the existing unity, harmony and understanding among them for the sake of stability and enduring prosperity.
“What is good about us in Sabah is that although we are from different ethnic groups, we can live together in peace, harmony and unity, respecting one another, being tolerant and helping one another like siblings in a large family.
“This is the contributing factor to the unity and religious harmony, progress and development of the state and political and economic stability that we currently enjoy,” he said at the launch of the ‘Festival Antarabangsa Gasing dan Tamu Besar (Gata) Sipitang’ at Gata Square near here, Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi launched the three-day international festival beginning yesterday which saw the arrival of thousands of visitors including from neighbouring Brunei, Indonesia and Sarawak.
Musa reminded the people in the state against being influenced by parties that try to disunite them through various platforms for certain agenda.
“Believe me, the platform that we have now is good enough. We received views and opinions through the ethnic-based associations in Sabah. What is important, I always advise, in our fellowship, we must be respectful of each other and be honest … be careful and wary of ‘seasonal’ leaders.
Meanwhile Zahid said the federal government will help Sabah to promote and boost Gata, and is prepared to give the financial allocation needed to make the festival a success.
He wants the number of participation and visitors to the event to double next year.
“God willing, the federal government will top up the allocation used by the state government for the festival. I would like to see Gata Festival grow at least double by next year,” he said.
In the meantime, Zahid also wanted the organisers of the event, which was first introduced in 2003, to also invite other countries such as Thailand, Australia and New Zealand to take part in the festival.
“I am aware the Gata festival is visited by people from Brunei and Indonesia, and also from Sarawak.
“But I think our friends from Thailand or other ASEAN countries, and probably Australia and New Zealand too have the same game (namely, top),” he said.