MIRI, April 25 — Several Dayak-based non-government organisations (NGOs) here are appealing to the federal government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to declare Pesta Keamatan in Sabah and Gawai Dayak in Sarawak as nationwide public holidays.
In a joint statement yesterday, the NGOs said it is the right time for the Prime Minister to declare these important festivals as public holidays in line with his Keluarga Malaysia concept.
The statement was issued by deputy president of Dayak Think Tank Association Sarawak (DTTAS) Edward Awan and secretary Evelyn Julian; president of Dayak National Congress Paul Raja; president of Iban Sarawak Iban Association Samuel Suring; president of Terabai Menua (TM) Association Sarawak Wilfred Nissem; president of Persatuan Jaringan Tanah Hak Adat Bangsa Asal Sarawak (Tahabas) Romuald Siew; president of Persatuan Masyarakat Salako and Rara Sarawak (Perasa) Robert Umping, and secretary-general of Persatuan Balang Balai Nyabong (BBN) Dr John Brian.
“As Pesta Kaamatan in Sabah is celebrated on May 30 and 31 while Gawai Dayak is celebrated on June 1 and 2, we would like to suggest that May 31 and June 1 be declared as nationwide public holidays.
“At the same time, additional holidays on May 30 for Pesta Kaamatan and June 2 for Gawai Dayak be retained for Sabah and Sarawak respectively. If this can be agreed on, it must be gazetted as nationwide public holidays starting this year,” said the press statement.
The declaration would enable the Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Rungus and Dayak communities all over Malaysia to celebrate the festivals at their hometowns instead of being unable to return to Sabah or Sarawak.
The NGOs also stressed that all parties must play a role in strengthening unity and fostering closer ties among all races, apart from promoting mutual respect.
They hoped the national calendar and planning by Federal Government departments would take into account these major festivals by making them public holidays as recognition of and to protect the customs, culture and festivals of the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak. — Borneo Post