Several group of NGOs are appealing to the government to declare Pesta Keamatan in Sabah and Gawai Dayak in Sarawak as national public holidays.
In a joint statement, the NGO 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.
In Sabah, Pesta Kaamatan takes place on 30 and 31 May, while Gawai is celebrated on 1 and 2 June. These are the separate harvest festivals celebrated by a diverse group of ethnicities in East Malaysia.
Both the festivals are currently gazetted as public holidays at the state and federal levels, but not as national holidays. Nonetheless, public servants in Peninsular Malaysia who were born in East Malaysia can officially get one leave of absence to celebrate the festivities if they apply for it.
According to Sarawak’s former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun, he said that these 2 festivals mean just as much to the people of East Malaysia as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year to the Malays and Chinese.
He explained that observing the holidays at the national level would provide East Malaysians, those who are working in the Peninsular would more than appreciate having extra days off to celebrate their respective festivals.
What do Malaysians have to say?
Generally, most Malaysians supported the call to declare Kaamatan and Gawai as national holidays.
Many agree that gazetting the festivities as national holidays is the right thing to do to celebrate Malaysia’s diversity, as it allows families and friends to spend time together during this festive season.
“Why not right. In addition to celebrating differences, multicultural news, and educating the Malay majority on the festivals of others, we all can definitely use the additional day off. I say go for it.” a netizen said.
Yeah i am agreed with this..kinda a bit sad as a Sarawakian/ Sabahan whenever Gawai need to use my AL..even i felt forgotten by the teams that i am Sarawakian who celebrate Gawai 😔— Dohito chan (@DorothyRayS) April 26, 2022
Meanwhile, some said the festivals are not gazetted as national holidays because of demographic reasons and that it would be more practical to let each state pick and choose to gazette Kaamatan and Gawai as needed.
“It’s not practical in the first place, Sarawak doesn’t even have a public holiday for Deepavali… There is the reason why State is given the power to have their own holiday.” a netizen commented.
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