KOTA KINABALU — The government of the State of Sabah (in northern Borneo) has established that 24 December will be a public holiday, to allow those celebrating Christmas to return to their homes.
Sabah’s chief minister, Mohd Shafie Apdal, announced last night that the provision was decided during the morning cabinet meeting. “I hope this extra day of vacation can benefit those who celebrate the event,” he said during the 2019 Kota Kinabalu Christmas celebration. The demonstration was attended by some of the highest offices in the most eastern state of Malaysia, including three deputy chief ministers and several cabinet ministers.
Mohd Shafie said that the celebration is a symbol of solidarity and harmony between the various ethnic and religious groups in the state. “Harmony – he added – is the key to the development and progress of our country. Therefore, we must maintain unity for our beloved Sabah. In my opinion, this evening’s theme, which is “Purity in Harmony” is very appropriate. Solidarity is created through harmony and the latter is a source of strength in good times or in difficult ones ”.
Sabah and Sarawak (also in Borneo) are the two federal territories with the greatest concentration of Christians. According to the 2010 census, nationally these represent 9.2% of the nearly 32 million Malaysians. Christians donate about 2.61 million, two thirds of whom live in the Malaysian portion of Borneo, where together they represent 33% of the citizens. In Sarawak, Christianity is the majority region (42.6%); in the State of Sabah it is the second in number of faithful (26.6%), after Islam (65.4%).