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The lit up Christmas Tree in front of Sabah Tourism Board building in Gaya Street. SNT Pix/Chris Maskilone

KOTA KINABALU: Christmas is in the air as the 20-foot tall Christmas Tree was lit up at Sabah Tourism Board’s (STB) compound in Gaya Street this evening.

STB’s first ever Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was officiated by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

Christina (centre) with other invited guests switching on the Christmas tree’s light. SNT Pix/Credit Info Dept

She together with other invited guests switched on the light amidst the O’ Holy Night carol by Male Efficient kicking off STB inaugural Christmas Celebration.

Among those on hand were Indonesian Consul General Khrisna Djelani, China Consul General Liang Cai-De, Ministry Permanent Secretary Datuk Datu Rosmadi Sulai, Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President Datuk Tan Kok Liong and Sabah Tourism General Manager, Suzaini Datuk Sabdin Ghani.

Christina presenting Christmas gifts to the children after the lighting ceremony. SNT Pix/Credit Info Dept

Earlier, two other carolling groups including one comprising staff of Sabah Tourism Board calling themselves STBells and Chords of Hope from Tamparuli SASS performed to the delight of the crowd.

Christina hoped the STB Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony will become a tradition.

The Male Efficient choir group performance. SNT Pix/Credit Infor Dept

“I hope this will be a tradition where we, regardless of backgrounds and ethnicities, come together to mark the year-end holiday season here in Kota Kinabalu,” she said.

Among STB’s activities for Christmas this year was the gift collection drive for children of the Paediatrics Ward, Sabah Women and Children Hospital in Likas.

Among the crowd who turned up at the STB Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. SNT Pix/Credit Info Dept

STB is collecting unwrapped toys or clothes as well as other suitable items for children between the age of two to 12 years old.

Christina with the children and maskots at the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. SNT Pix/Credit Info Dept

Those wishing to contribute could come to the STB office and drop the gifts into Christmas Cheer Box there.

The campaign will be for two weeks with the collected gifts to be distributed to the children in the paediatrics ward by Dec 18.

An overhead view of the lighting ceremony. SNT Pix/Credit STB

Before the end of tonight’s programme, Christina also presented Christmas gifts to the children.-SabahNewsToday