It was a Friday like no other at Gaya Street yesterday!
Locals and tourists alike thronged Gaya Street and adjacent lanes yesterday evening to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the iconic Sabah Tourism Board building, and it was a party.
Together with local partners, Sabah Tourism Board (STB) pulled all the stops and threw a grand celebration last night. Starting with a street bazaar at 5pm, vendors sold fancy foods and family favourites as well as clothes, trinkets and local accessories.
From stinky tofu to fresh juices and local kuih, the bazaar was a pod of life. Many turned up just to wander around, enjoy a snack and wind down in the cool evening breeze. It had rained in the afternoon and there was plenty of concern, but thankfully the rain stopped before festivities began.
At around 6pm, members of the public were invited into the building to see various artwork submitted for Sketching Competition. The excited crowd — some dressed colonial style– could be seen taking selfies and posing with the ‘100’ helium balloons.
The official event began a little after 7pm, and as it went underway there were at least 300 people there. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun officiated the event with many dignitaries in attendance. In his speech, Masidi reminded us why this building is such a big part of history.
“We must appreciate the fact that this great white structure survived a war, endured developments surrounding it and weathered the test of time. During the colonial government, it was a printing office, treasury, bank [and] then the post office until 1986,” Masidi said at the event.
Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) Sabah chapter deputy chairman Rizal Ahmad Banjar said a few words as well. He called the heritage building one to acknowledge as a timestamp of the city and development. “We hope the building will stand through the next century and that the next generation will do what we are doing now,” he said.
PAM and STB also organised a Sketching Competition of the building in conjunction with the Borneo Architectural Festival. Josrie Haral’s sketch topped the rest and his artwork has been immortalised in a limited edition stamp.
Local organisations came together in support of the event, according to STB chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai. Each initiative lent a nod to the building’s significance while embracing advancements in technology. The North Borneo History Society offered a virtual reality experience of Jesselton in the past. Sabah Animation Creative Content Centre developed a 3D projection mapping to showcase the building’s history.
The 100-metre long cake co-hosted by STB and Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort was made of vanilla sponge with a Belgian praline filling. The huge cake was cut into 3,000 slices, so everyone ate cake! In fact, some members of the crowd had more two or even three slices.
Finally, VIPs dropped drop postcards into a postbox, which would then be sealed as a time capsule. According to the organisers, the postbox will not be opened until another century later! Members of the public also joined in this initiative as they purchased postcards and dropped them in.
The official event then ended, but in true Sabahan style the party was just beginning! Local buskers took the mic and soon people were dancing the sumazau or simply swaying along to the music. Tourists looked on with interest, and some joined in the fun.
Slowly, and perhaps reluctantly, the crowd began to disperse as the night wore on. But without a doubt, Kota Kinabalu was celebrating. A heritage building close to our hearts had turned 100 years old; it was a birthday party we’re glad we didn’t miss.
Were you at the STB 100th Year Celebration event? If you were, give us a shout-out in the comments below and tell us your favourite part!
Don’t miss our highlight video and photo gallery of the event, coming soon. Stay tuned on Facebook!