NGOs Urge Malaysia to Make Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan National Public Holidays


NGOs Press for Gawai, Kaamatan as National Public Holidays

NGOs Urge Malaysia to Make Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan National Public Holidays
NGOs Urge Malaysia to Make Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan National Public Holidays

NGOs Advocate for National Recognition of Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan

KUCHING (June 12) – A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Sarawak is calling on the federal government to elevate Gawai Dayak, celebrated on June 1 in Sarawak, and Kaamatan, observed on May 30 in Sabah, to the status of national public holidays.

Embracing ‘Malaysia Madani’ Concept

The NGOs argue that this move aligns with the ‘Malaysia Madani’ concept, promoting equality and fostering a sense of better treatment from the federal government towards the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

“We ask that, on the basis of equality, Gawai and Kaamatan for the indigenous peoples of Sarawak and Sabah be declared as national holidays,” the NGOs stated.

Diverse Coalition of Advocates

The statement was signed by key figures including Persatuan Intelektual Pribumi Sarawak founder and advisor Wellie Henry Majang, deputy president Ricky Sani, and legal advisor Paul Raja. Other signatories included Persatuan Terabai Menua Sarawak founder Wilfred Nissem and Sarawak Salako and Rara Community Association president Robert Umping.

Celebrating Diversity in Malaysia

The NGOs emphasized the importance of recognizing these celebrations as a core principle of the Malaysian Federation, as highlighted in the Federal Constitution. They underscored that Malaysia’s strength lies in celebrating the diversity of its races, religions, cultures, and regions.

Political Support and Constitutional Rights

Serian MP Dato Sri Richard Riot Jaem recently highlighted the critical role of Sarawak and Sabah in the federation, asserting that without these states, there would be no Malaysia. The NGOs echoed Riot’s sentiments, emphasizing the need to safeguard the special rights of the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, as guaranteed by Article 153(1) of the Federal Constitution.


The call for recognizing Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan as national public holidays is not just about additional days off. It is a plea for acknowledging the rich cultural heritage and the unique contributions of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaysia’s national identity.


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