Canadian news portal Toronto Star reported that Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen have been barred from leaving Malaysia after posing for a series of nude photographs on the mountain. The duo was among a group of 10 western tourists who stripped down to pose naked and urinated at the 8km mark of the 2-day trek up Mount Kinabalu on the morning of 30th May.
They were all reported by their protesting guide, who claimed that they have called him “stupid” and told him to “go to hell”.
So far, only 5 tourist have been identified by the Malaysian police, including the siblings, 2 Dutch citizens named Eleanor Hawrins and Dylan Thomas, and a German citizen.
Sabah natives believe that their crude photo shoot may have angered “aki” (mountain protectors), and later brought on the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Ranau 2 days ago. The quake has left 18 people dead and over 100 climbers stranded atop Southeast Asia’s highest peak. Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan said in a statement that the tourists “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain”, which is “the resting place for spirits of the dead before they move on to heaven or hell”.
Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeperson Nicolas Doire confirmed to Toronto Star that they are aware of reports that 2 Canadians that have been barred from leaving Malaysia. She said in a statement that the Canadian High Commission in Malaysia is ready to provide consular services as needed.
Meanwhile, Sabah’s chief tribal priest known as Bobolian told The Star on Sunday that the tourists should be fined 10 buffalo heads to appease the mountain protector, according to the local customs. “According to local beliefs, the spirit of the mountain is very angry,” said The Bobolian, Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna, who believed that aki brought the quake in their rage.
The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving “sogit”. This fine, called “sogit” in the native tongue, should be in the form of 10 male or female buffaloes.
He conveyed the condolences of the state’s Bobolian community to affected families and added that these roaming spirits can be summoned through Bobolians or Tindarama during rituals called “menolob”.
Tindarama Aman also hailed Kitingan’s suggestion for a massive prayer gathering to appease the mountain spirit following the quake.
UPDATE (10th June, 12:10PM):
According to Malay Mail Online, Sabah police commissioner Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman confirmed that one British woman (aged 24) has been arrested by officers yesterday (9th June) for stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu.
He also stated that another 3 tourists surrendered themselves later at about 6pm:
3 foreigners, 2 Canadian siblings — one female (aged 23), one male (aged 22), and one Dutch male (aged 22) — came to the Karamunsing police station and were arrested.
Investigating officer Jafri Abdul Halim said each of them were given 4-day remand orders beginning today. “The remand was approved by Ranau-based magistrate Dzul Elmy,” he said when met at the Kota Kinabalu court today. Ranau police will be conducting full investigations on the tourists, who may be charged under Section 294 (a) of the Penal Code for indecent exposure.
The offence carries a sentence of up to 3 months jail or fine or both if convicted. The suspects are being represented by counsel Ronnie Cham.
One European male, who was arrested earlier, has been released on Monday (8th June) when found to not be part of those who stripped. “We will continue searching for any others who have exhibited this indecent, deviant behaviour on the mountain,” Jalaluddin said.