KOTA KINABALU – “A carnival such as the Gaya Christmas can only be a testimony of good relationship among people from all walks of life. It is a testimony of a people coming from different backgrounds who understand the importance of the strong bond of a 1Malaysia family.”
Those were the words spoken passionately by State Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh, who delivered the speech on behalf of the Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Haji Aman at the launching of the four-day event, the 2014 Gaya Christmas at the Lintasan Deasoka Dec 9.
Musa underlined that the acceptance of one another and the existent unity must not be compromised because of those who were irresponsible to fan racial sentiments with the intention to sow discord and distrust.
He hoped the ability to practise one’s faith without fear would spawn a spirit of tolerance, respect, unity, harmony and honour to remain in a peaceful communal living which is committed to meet each other’s needs.
Many guests at the launching ceremony however felt that Musa should have been present himself to take the opportunity to meet up with ordinary Christians and deliver the assurances of the government.
The theme of the Gaya Christmas carnival “The Star of Great Joy” speaks of a possible and much longed-for peaceful co-existence among peoples of different backgrounds simply because the “Star” who is the “Prince of Peace” and whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, promises and gives “great joy and peace” to all people of goodwill.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Gaya Christmas, a special ‘10-year timeline exhibition’ was set up at the Walai Koubasanan to recall its birth, its objectives and aspirations, as well as the insights of the pioneers after a decade.
The exhibition recalls the timely proposal of the SIB and the Basel Churches in 2004 of a new approach to better impact the people at the annual Combined Churches by Candlelight event at Padang Merdeka, which eventually paved the way for the conception of the Gaya Christmas celebration organized in partnership between the Sabah Council of Churches and the City Hall.
This event has laid the foundation for other similar annual festive events held at the same venue, which has since drawn throngs of tourists and eventually becoming a fixture in the calendar.
This year Paitan Kindergartens, which are run by the FSIC, are among the recipients of the proceeds collected during the four nights. Being concerned for those who are needy is an objective of Gaya Christmas to drive home a deeper meaning of Christmas through sharing, care and concern.
The Deaf Ministry, the Timorese community and the Catholic Nurses Guild from Sacred Heart Cathedral, as well as the youth choir of St Theresa, Tambunan, were among the score of performers.
The organizing of the Gaya Christmas by rotation, which fell on the shoulders of the BCCM this year, provides and promotes yet another objective for greater unity and dialogue among the churches.
Archbishop John Wong, who was given the honour to say the opening prayer at the launching, acknowledged God’s bountiful blessing to celebrate the Lord’s birth in the 10th Gaya Christmas, and asked for His blessing of a greater unity, harmony and prosperity for our city, state and country, so as to continue towards nation building together with the Government.
The Sidang Injil Borneo and Calvary Charismatic Centre will be the joint hosts for next year’s event.