Protect Kaamatan, Gawai from extremists

Monday, 26 May 2014

Leaders from Borneo warn local communities not to succumb to peninsular-influenced political and religious manoeurvering.

KOTA KINABALU: Political and grassroot leaders from Sabah and Sarawak have called for their respective native communities to reject tirades from peninsular based groups that are hurtful and socially divisive.

Without directly citing the race and religious discord fuelled by political expedience in Peninsular Malaysia, local leaders here called on their people to focus on the “unifying and binding” spirit of Kaamatan and Gawai festivities in Dayak majority Borneo.

In KOTA BELUD Sabah, BN component party Upko called on the Kadazan Dusun communities to safeguard Kaamatan celebrations and reject extremists’ views.

In an indirect charge at Islamists, Upko Komulakan chief Ewon Benedick said Sabahans, irrespective of their religious background come together each year to celebrate Kaamatan as one big family in a wider society, and questions on religious rights were never an issue.

But the situation in recent months, he said, showed dangerous indications.

“Wherever I go during this month of May when we are celebrating Kaamatan, people asked for my opinion on the statements made by (peninsular based) Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa, Ridhuan Tee or those from ISMA.

“To them these people have made remarks that are hurting the feelings of the non-Malays and non-Muslim society.

“I keep explaining that these individuals with extremist views are attention seekers. And I am reminding our communities in Sabah to show our solidarity by coming as one society for this Kaamatan.

“Don’t let these extremists views overshadow Kaamatan unity. Let us send a message to them that we reject their extremist views,” he said.

Benedick said the state and country’s aspiration to be a developed nation by the year 2020 can only be achieved if all races reduced talking about differences and focused instead on common issues and similarities.

“We have real issues like food security, border security, environment, global economic challenges and good governance at all levels of administration which needs focus.

“Why are we choosing to raise issues on the rights of certain segments of society and create a negative sentiment within the multi-racial society?

“If someone starts an argument on racial sentiments, of course, the other groups will have to respond.

“These unending arguments will only hinder our efforts to find solution for the bigger issues,” said Benedick.

Don’t let politics mar Gawai

He urged the communities not to indulge in divisive talk and views.

“For us here in the kampung, we must choose whether or not to have such wasteful talk.

“Kaamatan is a celebration of successes and let this motivate us to work together for the betterment of all people in the kampung. Lets talk and find solutions to actual issues facing the kampungs.

“Don’t let extremist views divide us” he said.

Meanwhile in SIBU, Sarawak, Senior Minister William Mawan said political differences and engagements with civil societies which “divide” must be set aside during Gawai harvest celebrations.

Urging the community to respect the celebrations Mawan said: “If our involvement with civil societies divides us, makes us divergent and antagonistic with one another, let us mend our ties during this Gawai Dayak.

“As far as we Dayaks are concerned, we do not allow social or political affiliation to disrupt our Gawai Dayak mood.”

“This is the social value we have in Sarawak which binds us together and which we value deeply. We will uphold and keep it as we enhance our Malaysian solidarity,” he said when officiating at a pre-Gawai Dayak celebration yesterday. - FMT Borneo Plus

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