KIMANIS: Umo leaders have been criticised for making an issue of a community celebration for Christmas and New Year in Membakut town, held on the same day as nominations for the Kimanis by-election.
However, Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal said he had no problem with Umno lodging a police report about lucky draws at the celebrations but said he sympathised with the event organiser, who felt guilty at having chosen the wrong date for the celebrations.
He urged Umno not to create a religious issue in Sabah but instead focus on their Kimanis election campaign.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan had questioned the holding of lucky draws at the event, which he said might contravene election laws.
Warisan vice-president Peter Anthony said the party and his KDM Malaysia organisation did not organise the celebration on Saturday, which he said was an effort by the local community in Membakut.
There was nothing unusual about the lucky draws as such giveaways were carried out at festivities in Sabah, including the annual harvest festival, he said.
No one was barred from attending the celebrations, which Umno members could have attended if they had wanted, he added.
Anthony also said he had received information that two days ago Umno members had gone into Kampung Pimping here and handed out RM200. This could be a case for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, he said.
An indigenous leader, Peter Chang, who said he was the organiser of the event, urged Umno leaders not to insult local Christmas traditions.
He said the celebration was apolitical. The Membakut community had raised their own funds for the event, which was also in appreciation of the chief minister declaring Dec 26 as an additional Christmas public holiday.