Alf has been shaken not by an earthquake but by the realisation that earthquakes may be caused by nudity and piddling in places other than dunnies.
He has been alerted to this phenomenon in a troubling report from Petaling Jaya, a city not far from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The headline grimly advises readers…
Sabah quake: Mount Kinablu may be “angry” with nudists, say locals
Then there’s this dismaying first para:
The 7.17am earthquake in Ranau may have been caused by aki (mountain protectors) angered over tourists who stripped and urinated at Mount Kinabalu.
These mountain protectors, Alf imagines, are akin to our taniwha.
This being so he will be showing much greater respect than previously, next time he meets a taniwha.
He will also be encouraging his constituents to keep their clothes on when they are out sight-seeing and not to pee on mountain tops.
Anything else to do with bodily functions should be discouraged too, he imagines.
His attitude has been strongly influenced by the news that…
While most on Twitter said they were just “waiting” for people to blame the 6-magnitude earthquake on the disrespect shown to the sacred site, some were not convinced that there was no link between the two incidents.
A Sabahan web developer, who declined to be named, half-jested that the recent incident of naked, urinating tourists at the sacred site made “mountain spirits mad”.
Tweeter @Zulfahmiabsalam said a friend from Sabah thought Mount Kinabalu may be “angry” because of the naked tourists.
There was a time when nobody would know if you stripped naked while climbing a mountain (except your climbing companions).
But nowadays you can’t do anything anywhere without the risk of it being photographed and posted on the web for the world to see.
On May 30, pictures of five naked men on the mountain surfaced on social media, followed by a picture of the 10 tourists – including four women – undressing near the south peak of Mount Kinabalu.
Sabahans railed against the images, as they consider the mountain sacred.
Sabah Parks director Datuk Jamili Nais said the four women and six men had split from their group and gone on to the south peak.
The tourist ignored the warnings from their mountain guide, calling him “stupid” and telling him to “go to hell”, when he pleaded with them to stop as they took off all their clothes and posed for pictures.
All guides have been told to ensure, when briefing climbers, that they clearly state going naked on the mountain is strictly prohibited.
In other words, the briefings should warn against de-briefing.
The full force of the law should be brought down on offenders and at least some of the aforementioned climbers look likely to be prosecuted.
As a consequence, this report tells us, the Canadian Government has become involved in a case instigated by the bizarre disinclination of its citizens to behave decently when far from home, thereby triggering earthquakes:
TORONTO — Two Canadians barred from leaving Malaysia, amid reports they could be charged after allegedly posing naked atop Mount Kinabalu, the country’s highest peak, are getting assistance from The Department of Foreign Affairs.
Spokesman Nicolas Doire says the department is aware two Canadians have been prevented from leaving the country, adding that Canadian consular officials in Malaysia are in contact with authorities.
Foreign Affairs could not confirm the identity of the Canadians, citing privacy concerns, but Malaysia’s foreign affairs ministry identified them as Canadian siblings Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Petersen.
Fair enough, too, that they be named.
They lost any right to privacy when they or their mates posted the pictures.
The Canadian report mentioned the earthquake.
A magnitude 5.9 earthquake Friday sent rocks and boulders raining down the trekking routes on 4,095-metre-high Mount Kinabalu in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.
Then it linked the quake to the antics of the disrespectful tourists.
Search efforts for six missing climbers continued Sunday, after rescuers recovered 13 dead from a strong earthquake that had trapped scores of trekkers.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak last week. He said a special ritual would be conducted later to “appease the mountain spirit.”
The Daily Mail, always must reading in the Grumble household, reiterates this attribution of blame:
Malaysia’s government has blamed a group of foreign tourists for a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on one of the country’s most sacred mountains.
The earthquake on Mount Kinabalu killed at least 16 people on Friday, and authorities are still searching for at least two others.
A few weeks ago, the ten foreign holidaymakers stripped naked, posed for a series of photographs and were accused of urinating as the scaled the mountain in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The photos didn’t appear on social media until days before the earthquake.
The Daily Mail cites more than one source:
Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said on Saturday that he believes the tourists caused the earthquake, according to Buzzfeed.
Pairin said that the earthquake was ‘confirmation’ that Mount Kinabalu was sacred and that people ‘cannot take it lightly’, the Malay Mail Online reported.
Pairin saw a flock of birds outside his home and had a feeling something bad might happen, he told Malay Mail Online.
He said: ‘At first I didn’t think anything of it, but after it went on for more than half an hour I knew something was not well. I brought it up with my wife and we bought agreed that something bad was going to happen.
‘The next day, I was on the way to the airport when the earthquake occurred. To me, when something like this happens, it is a clear connection of the incident to the earthquake that has brought about so much damage and loss of lives.
‘There is almost certainly a connection. We have to take this as a reminder that local beliefs and customs are not to be disrespected.’
Another report quotes the concerns of the aforementioned Sabah Parks director, Dr Jamili Nais.
Jamili said that they have never had to deal with such incidences, although men taking off their shirts were common.
He said they believed this is part of a puzzling travel trend to get naked at world heritage sites and such incidences have been occurring in Machu Picchu in Peru, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, with the latter incident resulting in two American tourists deported.
“Otherwise why would anyone take off their clothes in the cold weather up there?” he said.
He said that the Sabah Parks Enactment did not cover such an offence but will be considered in the future.
“Meanwhile, we rely on the police to investigate incidences of gross indecency in public,” he said.
Local guides who accompany climbers often brief them on the traditional “do’s and don’ts”.
These include no plucking of plants, no removal of stones from the mountain, no speaking loudly and inappropriately and do “ask for permission” before relieving one’s self.
The report does not say from whom permission must be sought.
This report goes on to give a hint of what might happen to the Canadians:
The incident is reminiscent of the Penang “Nude Sports Games” last year, which led to six Malaysians each being jailed a month and fined RM5,000.
One was jailed an additional six months for recording the event.
Alf is unsure if all the naked climbers have been rounded up or just the Canadians.
But he imagines that heavy penalties will result from any charges that link their disrespectful (if not downright lewd) behaviour with the deaths and/or earthquake damage
He does not know if this is a firing squad offence.
If it isn’t – well, maybe it should be.
For his part, knowing now what causes earthquakes, Alf will be taking great care to keep his clothes on (except when it is essential to get them off, such as for medical examinations) to ensure whatever spirits reside around Eketahuna are not disturbed.
Mind you, he is inclined to suspect the spirits would be even more disturbed if they got a butchers at Mrs Grumble, but she shares Alf’s concern and requires no direction from her ever-loving husband on how to keep them mollified.