Sabah official blames earthquake on naked tourists
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - A group of tourists who stripped naked on top of Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia are being blamed for Friday's earthquake which killed at least 16 people.
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia – A group of tourists who stripped naked on top of Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia are being blamed for Friday’s earthquake which killed at least 16 people.
Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, deputy chief minister of the state of Sabah where the quake was centred, has condemned the “uncivilized and disrespectful” actions. He called for the culprits to be brought to a native court and charged according to local customs.
“Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we Sabahans believe. When the earthquake happened, it’s like a confirmation of our beliefs,” the Malay Mail online quoted Pairin saying.
Pairin is also the Huguon Siou, or paramount leader of the Kadazan-Dusun – a term to describe the two indigenous tribes in Sabah.
“It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly,” Pairin said in a press conference.
Locals who live at the foothills of Mt Kinabalu believe the mountain is sacred and carries the spirit of their ancestors.
Pairin said he had a premonition something bad was going to happen when he saw a flight of swallows circling outside his house during breakfast last week.
“At first I didn’t think anything of it, but after it went on for more than half an hour I knew something was not well,” he said.
“The next day, I was on the way to the airport when the earthquake occurred. To me, when something like this happens, it is a clear connection of the incident to the earthquake that has brought about so much damage and loss of lives.”
On May 30, a group of 10 tourists including two Canadians, two Dutch and a German national broke away from their entourage of 27 at the mountain’s summit plateau and stripped before taking photos.
They were approached and reprimanded by a mountain guide, and allegedly told him to “go to hell” and called him “stupid”.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, said the five identified culprits would be found if they were still in Sabah and would not be allowed to leave until they faced action.
“Only after will we kick them out and ban them from entering Sabah again,” he said.
Locals, with Sabah Parks, the custodian agency for Kinabalu Park, hold a sacrificial ritual annually to appease the spirits for the safety of their climbers.
Sabah Parks staff member Alip Sampil said villagers were angered by the nude photo incident.
“They were so offended and angry with the behavior. The mountain is sacred to the people here.”