Covid-19: Kaamatan beauty pageant cancelled

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KOTA KINABALU: The Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) has forbidden Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) activities – particularly the prestigious Unduk Ngadau pageant – from taking place at its cultural unity centre Hongkod Koisaan on May 30 and 31.

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Tourism, Arts, and Culture (Motac) Deputy Minister and KDCA Deputy President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said holding the Unduk Ngadau grand finals during the Covid-19 pandemic would go against the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

“We have discussed this in KDCA… when you have the Unduk Ngadau contest, the participants will have their make-up and hair done, which is (a risky process in terms of social distancing).

“Therefore, it is inappropriate to hold the beauty pageant. We have decided not to have the Kaamatan (annual celebration), in particular, holding any contest at the centre,” he said, today.

Jeffrey was speaking to reporters at a press conference after attending a closed-door briefing on the implementation of the ISO Adventure Tourism Safety Management System for outbound tourism at the Sabah Motac office, here.

On March 14, KDCA announced the cancellation of the Harvest Festival due to the coronavirus outbreak after thorough deliberations with Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun paramount leader) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and other committee members.

Three days ago, state government Kaamatan organising committee chairman Datuk Peter Anthony said the Unduk Ngadau will be held online until May 29 for the top seven selections.

The finalists, Anthony said, will be presented at the Hongkod Koisaan for the grand finale, with less than 50 people allowed on the premises.

Jeffrey noted that it would be difficult to prevent the public from entering the premises, adding that KDCA has conveyed its concern and decision to Anthony, who is also the state Infrastructure Development minister.

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“We are sticking to our decision. If they want, they will have to find other venues, but not KDCA. This will be up to them,” he said.

The Unduk Ngadau pageant is one of the most important highlights of the Kaamatan cultural festival, which celebrates Huminodun, a maiden who was sacrificed by her father, Kinoingan, to save the people from famine and bring about a bountiful harvest.

A newly-crowned Unduk Ngadau queen is expected to carry out social and charity work, as well as promote Sabah tourism, for a year.

Speaking on tourism, Jeffrey said that Sabah hopes to re-activate the industry by year end, starting with domestic tourism.

This will be followed by the resumption of regional tourism, covering neighbouring countries such as Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia, among others, and global tourism.

“So, now, we are looking for ways on how to do it. One suggestion is we do it by focusing on affected areas, for example, allowing tourism activities to resume in green zones,” said Jeffrey.

He added that outdoor activities which do not involve crowds – such as mountain climbing, scuba diving, and jungle trekking – should be allowed to recommence.

Jeffrey also said the federal government is concerned over the plight of tourism players, especially those who have lost jobs, stressing that there will be announcements on follow-up stimulus packages soon.

-NST

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