Sabah quake: Mount Kinabalu nudists may get 3 months' jail if found guilty of obscene act

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP) - The four foreigners who have been remanded four days for allegedly appearing nude on top of Mount Kinabalu can a face a charge of performing an obscene act in a public place.

Lawyers said the remand order by a magistrate court was for investigations under Section 294 (a) of the Penal Code.

They said under the section, they were liable to up to three months' jail, a fine or both if they were charged and found guilty by the court.

Now remanded at the Karamunsing police lock-up, they were produced before Ranau magistrate Dzul Elmy at about 10.30am on Wednesday (June 10).

The four are two Canadian siblings (a 23-year-old brother and his 22-year-old sister); a 23-year-old Dutch male and a 24-year-old British woman.

The Canadian siblings and the Dutch surrendered to the Karamunsing police station here at about 6pm on Tuesday while the British woman was arrested in Tawau Tuesday (June 9)  afternoon.

Sabah Parks had lodged a police report after a photograph of 10 tourists stripping and urinating on Mount Kinabalu on May 30 went viral.

Malaysian social media users and some Sabah officials suggested that the actions of the tourists angered the spirits and led to an earthquake last Friday (June 5) which sent landslides crashing down from the mountain's summit just as more than 150 hikers were at the peak enjoying sunrise views.

Eighteen people have been confirmed killed on the mountain, with a significant number of them young students from Singapore who were on a school excursion.

In the wake of the disaster, Malaysian social media users and some Sabah officials have focused on the nudists, suggesting that their actions angered the spirits and led to the earthquake.

But Sabah tourism minister Masidi Manjun said the idea that the tourists' actions had caused the earthquake was "misconstrued".

"I never said that they actually caused the earthquake but their actions were against the people of the largest tribe in Sabah. The mountain is a revered and sacred site," he said.

A traditional inter-faith cleansing ritual is expected to take place at the mountain site soon involving Muslims, Christians as well as tribal leaders, according to Mr Masidi.