Musa Aman’s Christmas wish


 A very grand Gaya Yuletide carnival next year to draw European tourists

By Oliver Majaham
Pictures by Victor Lo
Video by Flanegan Bainon

Joseph Pairin Kitingan

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman knows how historical Gaya Street is. It is the oldest and most famous thoroughfare in Kota Kinabalu capital. The British colonial government, which ruled Sabah until 1963, named it after London’s upmarket Bond Street as it was the only shopping street. But it hadn’t lived up to its name that is synonymous with luxury shopping. However Gaya Street has become a street of festivities where the yearly Christmas, Chinese new year, Ramadan and Kaamatan carnivals are held. This Christmas, Musa has a wish: He wants next year’s Gaya Christmas celebration to be bigger and brighter that will bring European tourists here.

Insight Sabah first made the European connection to Gaya Street when it reported in 2009 that the three-day celebration resembled Germany’s Weihnachtmarkt (Christmas market).

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Braving the rain from left: Saheyra Pairan 11, Civillasanne Matinin, 25, Raynald Cornelius, 15, Deborah Sabdin 20.Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan who spoke on his behalf at the launch of the carnival on December 12 said Europeans who want to escape winter would be happy to spend their Yuletide holiday in Kota Kinabalu if they know that Christmas is celebrated here like they do.

“I would like to see just as many tourists as locals coming to this annual celebration,” Musa said. “Gaya Street can be transformed into a vibrant and colourful Christmas fairyland. I hope to see an even bigger and brighter Gaya Christmas carnival.”

Beatrice WongSince last year, the organisers have added a day to the carnival themed “The Star of Great Joy” because its popularity has grown greatly since it started in 2005. It is organised by Kota Kinabalu City Hall and the Sabah Council of Churches.

The Sabah government contributed half of the celebration cost of 200,000 ringgit ($63,000), according to Neil Mah of the Roman Catholic diocese of Kota Kinabalu. He is chairman of the celebration organising committee.

Thousands of people crowd the 300 stalls that sell food, toys, handicraft and Christmas decorations along the brightly decorated 400-metre long street from 7-10 p.m. There are pop singers to entertain the crowd besides carollers.

Many of those who run stalls, like Beatrice Wong, do it for charity. Wong hopes to raise 4,000 ringgit selling cookies and chicken pies at prices between 13 and 19 ringgit for her Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd, a shelter for homeless women. – Insight Sabah

Now watch the Gaya Christmas celebration on video

A Sabah Christmas wonderland ►

In Sabah, a star of great joy ►

Posted on December 14, 2011

Malay 中文 Kadazan
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