KOTA KINABALU - It was a subdued Hari Raya in the state with many families choosing to observe Hari Raya Aidilfitri in a low key manner.
Among them was housewife Sharifah Erna Berson, the wife of abducted marine police Kons Zakiah Aleip.
Since her husband's abduction after gunmen attacked a marine police unit at Pulau Mabul, off Semporna on July 12, she decided to move with her four-month-son Muhammad Hisham from their home in Semporna to Kons Zakiah's family home in Tuaran.
Sharifah Erna said she did not have any new baju raya this year as she only managed to get new clothes for her husband and their son just before Kons Zakiah's abduction.
"My Raya prayers were for my husband's safe return," she said.
It was also quiet Hari Raya in the state's east coast area where an ongoing dusk-to-dawn curfew at sea had been imposed in six districts - Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau - following the Pulau Mabul incident recently.
Petty trader Riduan Yusop, from Semporna, said while people still visited each other but it was seemingly less festive than in previous years.
Bus express operators also noted a decline in the number of people heading home to the east coast from Kota Kinabalu and nearby areas, many saying that this could be due to security concerns there.
Sabah Express Bus Operators Council chief Datuk Donald Hanapi said many tickets to the east coast remained unsold in the days leading up to Hari Raya.
Some families also chose to have low key Hari Raya celebrations by holding smaller open houses for their immediate relatives and friends as a mark of respect for those who died in the downed MH17 Malaysia Airlines flight on July 17.
Sabah state ministers cancelled their Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at the Likas sports complex on July 28 here for the same reason.
However, hundreds turned up at State Istana on Monday to extend festive greetings to Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife Toh Puan Norlidah RM Jasni.
Among them were Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Deputy Chief Ministers Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Datuk Yahya Hussin and Datuk Raymond Tan and Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.