The PJ Tatler

Don't Try This On Holiday, Kids!

What began as a lark has ended up as this:

British climber Eleanor Hawkins is facing three months in prison after being accused of causing an earthquake by ‘stripping naked’ on a sacred Malaysian mountain, Mirror Online can reveal. This morning we revealed that the tourist was arrested by police who claimed she was part of a group of 10 Westerners stripping off the 4,000 metre tall Mount Kinabalu on May 30. Six days later the country saw one of the biggest earthquakes in decades kill at least 16 people and locals blame the nude tourists for ‘offending the mountain god’.

The 23-year-old, from Derby, was apprehended by police yesterday at Tawau airport after trying to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur, officials said. She appeared in court this morning alongside three other defendants, two Canadians and one Dutch national. The four were then locked up behind bars in the police headquarters but Mr Cham requested that they be held separate from Malaysian prisoners.

Deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jab also blamed the tourists for the tragedy and said they deserve to be punished. Among those killed in the earthquake were a dozen students and at least one teacher on a school trip.

The area’s MP Wilfred Tangau said: “It is all right, they can laugh at our Native Court. Go ahead. “This is how we’ve been living for so long, without police and in harmony. So action must be taken.” Mr Jab told state media: “Some places have their own historical background and are sacred to the local community and, as such, visitors to these places should respect the place, the local traditions and cultures.”

Luckily, they got off relatively easily:

Four Western tourists were ordered deported from Malaysia on Friday after pleading guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on a popular climbing peak, an act some in the country blamed for causing a deadly earthquake. The defendants – Eleanor Hawkins of Britain, 24, Dutchman Dylan Snel, 23, and Canadian brother and sister Lindsey, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22 – were arrested earlier this week in the wake of the deadly June 5 quake which killed 18 people on Mount Kinabalu.

A court in Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah on Borneo island, sentenced them to three days’ jail time starting from when they were arrested on Tuesday, meaning their term had been served. They also were fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (S$1,800) and ordered deported for committing an “obscene act in a public place,” which can carry a three-month jail term. It was not immediately clear when they would be deported.

“It is a wake-up call to tourists not to ignore local traditions and culture,” Mr Masidi Manjun, the state’s tourism minister, told AFP. “Since they pleaded guilty and showed remorse, it is only fair that they are let off with a fine by the court.”