Eleanor Hawkins, 23, was arrested and charged with indecency offences after a group of Western tourists posed for naked photos on the sacred mountain of Malaysia. She was fined 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (€1,180) and sentenced to three days in jail, which she has already served.
Fellow backpackers Canadian Lindsey Peterson, 23, his sister Danielle, 22, and Dutchman Dylan Snel, 23, also pleaded guilty in a court in Sabah, a state on Borneo island, and were given similar sentences for their stunt at the top of Malaysia’s highest peak. They were among the ten travelers who enraged locals by stripping off near the summit of the mist-shrouded 13,435 ft Kinabalu on May 30.
According to reports, the group of 10 had challenged one another to see who could remain naked the longest in the cold. Specifically, the women were topless while the two men were totally nude.
This public scandal brought outrage to Malaysian natives. In fact, Sabah deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan associated the public indecency of those foreign tourists to the magnitude 5.9 earthquake on June 5.
The said tragedy broke one of the famous twin rock formations on the mountain known as the “Donkey’s Ears” and killed 18 people including nine Singaporeans, six Malaysians, a Filipino, a Chinese and a Japanese.
On the other hand, Tim Hawkins expressed relief at the verdict, adding he wanted to get his daughter home safely. He issued a statement saying his daughter knew what she did “was stupid and disrespectful and is very sorry for the offence that she has caused the Malaysian people.”
Well, the four have suffered enough trauma from their arrests. They have also served their sentence and have issued public apology, which is probably enough for a punishment.
But this incident should serve as a warning for tourists and backpackers to be very careful when entering a foreign land. Make sure that you know the culture, traditions and beliefs of the local people before travelling. Most importantly, you have to respect one’s culture and beliefs and behave accordingly, so as not to repeat the mistakes these backpackers made.