In Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu is considered a sacred place. So when a group of tourists decided to strip and take photos of themselves on top of the mountain and an earthquake hit the area shortly afterwards, it didn’t take long for people to connect the two incidents.
The earthquake, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, caused landslides; eighteen climbers have been confirmed dead so far. The earthquake hit the area a week after the foreigners (two Canadians, two Dutch, and one German) stripped and took photographs on the mountain.
Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, said, “Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we Sabahans believe. When the earthquake happened, it’s like a confirmation of our beliefs. There is almost certainly a connection. We have to take this as a reminder that local beliefs and customs are not to be disrespected.”
Meanwhile, to appease the mountain, Sabah’s tribal priest wants the tourists to be fined 10 head of buffalo. “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,” said the chief, Tindarama Aman.