When tourists from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands broke away from their group and stripped naked at the top of Mount Kinabalu, they overstepped the fine line between fun and disrespect.
Taking naked pictures at the top of a mountain that Sabahans, natives of a Malaysian region in northeastern Borneo, hold so sacred had stupid written all over it.
A week later, the mountain roared with an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, killing at least 13 climbers. As rescue teams search for more trekkers, Sabahans are convinced that the natural disaster came about because of the mountain spirits’ anger at the disrespectful tourists.
“When the earthquake occurred it can be taken as confirmation of what the consequences would be when these people decided to bare it all on top of the mountain. We cannot play around with the spirits on our sacred mountain,” said the deputy chief minister.
The four tourists, Briton Eleanor Hawkins, Canadians Lindsey and Danielle Peterson and Dutchman Dylan Snel, have been sentenced to three days' time served and each fined 1,330 after pleading guilty to the charges of public disturbance.
The group climbed to peak of the mountain and challenged each other to take off their clothes on May 30. The accused did not tell the guide to "shut up" or "go to hell" as the prosecution allegedly said. Instead they just ignored the pleas to not remove their clothes.
Hawkins, admitted the act was disrespectful and was sorry for the offense caused.
The group is waiting to pay their fines and then be deported.
Police are still seeking the five other suspects, but they have been thought to have left Sabah.