The seven tourists who allegedly posed in the nude for photographs on top of Mount Kinabalu and whose actions are said to have angered the spirits there which unleashed Friday’s earthquake, will face charges in a native court for violating local native laws, said the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sabah Parks.
Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin told reporters at the Sabah Park headquarters in Kundasang last night that the tourists were in police custody in Kota Kinabalu and could be charged as early as tomorrow.
He, however, could not say if they would be charged in the court in Kota Kinabalu or the one in Kundasang.
The death toll from the quake that hit Sabah on Friday morning is now 13, while six people remain missing.
Most KadazanDusuns interviewed believed in their ancestors’ belief in the spirits of the mountain, and that the spirits were provoked by the tourists’ reported nude jaunt at the summit of the mountain last week.
The tourists also allegedly urinated in “improper places” at the summit.
“It’s akin to someone going to a mosque or temple and urinating in them,” said Zainal, describing the act as desecration.
Photos of their antics were posted on Facebook, which quickly went viral.
Even Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan shared the sentiment that the Westerners provoked the spirits and that they should be punished.
He reportedly said a ritual would be conducted to appease the angry spirits.
The mountain is revered by locals who called it Akinabalu, which in the native language means resting place of the dead.
“Kadazandusuns have long believed the mountain to be sacred, and in the past even pointing at the mountain was absolute taboo,” said Zainal.
“They still believe it to be sacred today and that is why the sogit (a sacrificial ritual) is performed at the end of every year to appease the spirits and seek their permission to climb it for another year,” he said.
“They (the tourists) have no respect for local beliefs. It is only appropriate they be punished for disrespecting and breaking local native laws.”
Even though he is Muslim, Zainal believed there is “something” in the mountain from personal experience.
The former Royal Air Force pilot narrated how a Frenchman in the 50s refused to perform the sogit before climbing the mountain and was seriously injured in a fall.
He said a series of unusual and unexplained incidents also occurred in the attempt to take the injured Frenchman to hospital.
The incidents, said Zainal, so unnerved the Frenchman that he later had the sogit performed.
The sogit is a ritual where seven white “kampung” chickens are slaughtered and seven of everything including beetlenut leaves and kapor, are offered to appease the spirit before any climb.
Seven, said Zainal, is an important number in ancient Kadazandusun religious belief.