An Earthquake Triggers A Mountain of Stupidity

Shaun Tan reflects on the tragedy, and the tragedy that followed.

The tourists stripping off on Mount Kinabalu.

One of the main reasons I write is in the hope that I can help make people slightly less stupid.

And so I find myself compelled to write to protest the great tragedy of the Sabah earthquake.

No, it isn’t the casualties of the earthquake, though those too were tragic of course. It isn’t the Malaysian government’s inept rescue operations. And it certainly isn’t the naked photos taken by foreign tourists atop the mountain.

No, the greatest tragedy of the Sabah earthquake is the response of many Malaysians to the foreign tourists stripping off on Mount Kinabalu for some harmless fun.

The naked photos they took have triggered a response out of all reasonable proportion, with many Malaysians online calling for vengeance against the tourists who ‘defiled’ their ‘sacred mountain’. The Sabah Criminal Investigation Department chief has announced an investigation into the ‘incident’, the Sabah Police Commissioner has said the tourists will be prevented from leaving the country, and a European man was arrested at Kota Kinabalu International Airport yesterday and questioned by the police over it.

Then there was the ludicrous statement by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan that the earthquake happened because the naked bodies of the tourists ‘angered the spirits of the mountain’, a statement that has made Malaysia a laughing stock around the world.

There was also the ridiculous Facebook post by a Sabahan defending this crackpot theory and the thousands of equally ridiculous people who liked or supported it.

Worst of all was the vitriol heaped on Emil Kaminski (who claims to be one of those who stripped on the mountain), who mocked the Sabah authorities in a Facebook post.

‘People of Tawau…find him until you get him…look in every hotel…kill him!’ wrote Larius Opung in furious response. ‘Don’t let him run away!’

‘u will be stuck 4ever..n go to hell with u fuck friends..only u have to is., just fuck!!fuck!!FUCK!!with u girls..b4 u die,’ wrote Nina Kejora.

‘you’re mom is such a whore…and I’m gonna fuck your mom everyday!!!’ wrote Amir Syafiq.

Many other commentators vowed to harm or kill Kaminski for ‘shaming the country’.

Incidentally, I do think this episode has shamed the country, though not in the way those commentators think.

It is shameful that so many Malaysians are losing their minds over something so trivial. It is shameful that so many Malaysians seem to lack even a primary school understanding of science and geography. It is shameful that civilisation in our country is apparently so tenuous that all it takes is a few people taking off their clothes on a mountain to reduce Malaysians to a band of frothing primitives.

It is shameful that people think mountain spirits that murder innocents because other people got naked are worthy of respect.

But wait, say some, shouldn’t we respect others’ beliefs, even if they seem dubious?

The answer is no.

A stupid belief without a shred of empirical evidence to support it doesn’t deserve any respect, no matter how zealously held, whether by an atheist or a Christian, a Muslim or a Dusun. This is the bedrock of rationality. By pandering to silly sensibilities we encourage them. No one should be harmed for doing something that did no harm to anyone else — and, no, imagined harm from offended hair-trigger sensibilities doesn’t count.

I therefore call on my fellow Malaysians to drop this farce. Grow up. Stop persecuting those harmless tourists and concentrate on the things that actually matter.

Because, ironically, the Sabah authorities and those commentators have done more damage to Malaysia’s already battered reputation than a thousand naked climbers ever could.

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Posts by Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is a Malaysian writer. He enjoys reading, partying, and talking about himself in the third-person. Contact him at [email protected]

Posted on 9 June 2015. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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77 Responses to An Earthquake Triggers A Mountain of Stupidity

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  2. malaysian

    Dear Shaun Tan ,
    I’m one of the many baffled readers of your post on loyarburuk and as a young Malaysian , I couldn’t help myself but to write a response to your post . Just for your information Mr Shaun , let me enlighten you with some knowledge that I truly believe you lack in and something that you should have learnt but however “seem to lack even a primary school understanding of “ moral and a little geography too , perhaps even some history .
    Number 1 : Sabah one of the founding members of the Malaysian federation
    •Hence , the National Principles too directly applies to them whereby ,
    in the first Principle itself states BELIEF IN GOD

    Number 2 : Based on the Malaysia Principles , Belief in God highlights apart from Islam , other religions and belief can be practised anywhere in peace in the Federation and the act of distinction of other races towards a citizen in the name of religion is strictly prohibited . This principal was established due to the realization of the importance of the firm believes of the citizens to their teachings of their respective religion hence being the first principle itself in the list of national principles ,
    Number 3 : Apart from that , the teaching of respecting other religions itself has been in the syllabus in our education for both the Pendidikan Sivik and Pendidikan Moral since PRIMARY school itself . The lessons on respecting other religions is strongly emphasized
    So Mr Shaun , your article in simply dismissing the issue of foreign tourists stripping off on Mount Kinabalu as harmless fun and trivial is downright disappointing . I have strong feeling perhaps you totally missed the lessons in your school in respecting other religions and their believes or perhaps you just had a pathetic series of teachers who have failed to penetrate nationalism and patriotism into your skull.
    Yes , I agree , our Malaysians have behaved rather foolishly by the way they reacted but we are no foreigners to how ridiculously our people tend to behave especially in the matter of religion . No , I’m not justifying the act of our fellow Malaysians and their childish tantrums but in all honesty you are no different than them .
    Who are Mr Shaun to address the believes of our Sabah citizens as dubious and stupid ? Who are you Mr Shaun to state their believes do not deserve respect ? And more importantly : How dare you Mr Shaun ?
    Our fellow Muslim believers too have been coming up with warnings that qayamat is approaching due to signs such as “There will be very tall buildings” , “ Divorces will become common” , “People will treat relatives badly “ and “Gold will become common “ but have we ever dared to criticize their religion and their belief ? Do YOU dare to criticize their believes ? I doubt it . You have learnt to respect the believes of our Muslim brother and sisters because for one , you know for a fact if you don’t they will tear you down for their strength in number and their faithfulness towards their religion .
    Yes I myself am a person of Science but one thing is Ive learnt is I should always learn to respect people’s believes despite our differences . You don’t need to digest them and force
    it upon yourself but neither is there the necessity to throw harsh remarks and judgments , you are not entitled to do so .
    If you can’t strip naked in a mosque , temple or a church neither can you strip naked on Mount Kinabalu which is considered to be sacred to the locals in Kinabalu . Yes , addressing our Malaysian and correcting our method of approaching issues is something we need to work on , and you Mr Shaun , youre not exception either . Should we allow A Malaysian to disrespect other Malaysians and their believes ? The answer is no . You’re at wrong and you need to admit it .

  3. asdf

    Give me your address. I want to pee in your car and bedroom. Even at the shrine you are praying or temple or mosque i dunno. See how you felt about it

  4. "A stupid belief without a shred of empirical evidence to support it doesn’t deserve any respect, "' See more at:… Shaun!!!!!! why not you climb the mountain let the dusun people summons the spirit for you to witness as you mentioned it stupid.. And hoping the spirit may gives you a present that you never forget througout your life . ITS A MATTER OF RESPECT DUDE !

  5. Heartbreak Ridge

    Hi Shaun,

    Although I'm not agree to your conclusion of this article, but I'm still happy that there is someone who dare to point out the fault.

    You can feel everyone's anger to Emil Kaminski's trolls on Facebook. As usual, such a quarrel turned rampage, as nonsense, hate words, death threads, and even racist remarks spread within the posts (you can refer to the posts, especially those posted by who shown support to Emil's action).

    Yes, everyone has his/ her own right and freedom to protest. But please always remember, since this is a sensitive issue, so please mind your language and match to the point when express opinion. Be polite. Be rational. Be reasonable.

    "Mak kau hijau," "your mother is green," and the most amusing one "your mother is green, your father is red, your sister is purple and you are yellow, your family is Teletubbies." It's quite a humor to me, but not to others. It's amusing to those foreigners who read the posts too. They don't understand the meaning, but they know it's a insult or something. It's no doubt some foreigners will reply with tonnes of racist remarks.

    In some occasions, the word 'sacred' is so confusing amongst foreigners. There is a post from a Canadian, he asked if the mountain is so sacred, how can pubs operate in the mountain lodges? Smell something? Islamophobia is quite common in western world since 9/11. In foreigner's mind, Malaysia is Islamic country like Bahrain, Qatar etc. because Islam is our state religion. Unless they had lived in Malaysia for sometime, just like any other Asian countries, Malaysia is always viewed as a land of exotic and mystic.

    Well, they should had read the posts which linking the earthquake with mountain nudity and died laughing. Even Sabahan will understand the earthquake was not caused by mountain nudity. And certainly such a tone won't be confident enough to gain respect today.

    But at least we must let the nudist know we are not superstitious. Our people are not radicals. Because there is no so-called "official nudity area" in Malaysia. Being nude in public is count as indecent act and against the civil law in Malaysia (as well as "Sogit" System in Sabah).

    Like it or not. Since they had violated it, they will be summoned.

    Thanks to the warning and advice from a Singaporean facebook user as well as other local and foreign users (few of them far from Canada), they reminded us how amusing the quarrel is. That's enough, don't feed the trolls anymore.

  6. simonpeters

    I will make everything plain and easy for you, Shaun Tan. You think you are rational, liberal and smarter than the superstitious and ignorant people who hang onto their cultural beliefs.

    Many here have asked you what would happen to you if you were to do something similar in a western society.

    I like to challenge you to see if you are man enough to practice what you preach. Go to any national institution in any country and do what these fools have done on Mount Kinabalu. If you can't do it, then crawl into a hole and think again about what you have said and how arrogant you have been.

    • shaunzhimingtan

      What would be the point in that? If I did it in the West, or in any other civilized country, nothing would happen. In fact, even if I did it in China I doubt anything would happen. A week ago, a woman stripped completely naked at the Forbidden City in China and took sexy photos, but nothing seems to have happened to her. It's only in Malaysia and backward countries like those in the Middle East where people throw a fit over something so trivial.

      • Dominic Yusoff

        Actually Shaun, that incident in China is still being investigated and the matter has been reported to the police. Also there was quite a buzz on Chinese social media No death threats but alas its because it was Chinese nationals who were doing it. If it were Japanese or Western nationals you can be assured the reaction would be more severe.…

        As for your comment about Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries being "backward" may I remind you that Western countries like the USA have anti-nudity laws, some of which are strict liability, and some of which can result in a person being registered as a sex offender. So it would seem that the laws of these countries are "backward" according to your value system. (Reference on US laws on this matter)

        As for the reaction. Note that it was done on a place considered sacred to locals and this is what sparked the anger. If you remember the nude woman on Petaling Street, no one was calling for her death nor were people attributing natural disasters to her. The beliefs and customs of the local people must be respected. Also referring to your comment on backwardness, if you sincerely believe that no extreme reaction will occur if you violate sacred or respected places in the West, I suggest you or suggest to other like minded people to repeat what these persons have done at a memorial in the US honoring fallen soldiers and see what sort of reaction you get. Americans hold dear to the memory of their fallen soldiers so it would be interesting to see if they can accept "without a fuss" a group of people urinating on the memory of their soldiers.

  7. This article is straight up ridiculous and the writer needs to get off his high horse, tell me would you stand and jump a top the slabs of the Jewish memorial in Berlin or wear a swastika shirt visiting the Anne Frank house? No , because to do so would offend the locals and chances are if you did you too would be on the receiving end of harsh criticism, which would be completely justified as you are insulting and desecrating something that is sacred to the people . But apparently according to you that would be a stupid belief right?

    In your article you neglect to mention that the tourist were warned not to do so by their tour guide and they responded to this aggressively with verbal abuse therefore making it western disrespect not western ignorance or according to you "harmless fun". Further, the online criticism was mainly tossed at Emil Kaminski who went out of his way to further aggravate matters and infuriate people with his actions through his social media accounts. How on earth are Malaysians not justified to express how they feel towards the matter. Any people of any country would act the same.

    Lastly , no one can argue that the publication of this event saying "Malaysians blame the tourist for the earthquake" is not embarrassing but people were already upset at the nudist long before the quake and the poor timing unfortunately escalated the matter. Despite that , your article criticizing Malaysians who are standing up against what they perceive to be a bunch off disrespectful tourist who think they can do whatever and whenever they want is equally embarrassing.

  8. Lee

    "Shaun Tan is a Malaysian writer. He enjoys reading, partying, AND TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF IN THE THIRD-PERSON. Contact him at [email protected]"

    Oh, Mr. Narcissistic. I see that you're reading the comments here and voting down those who disagree with your view. All I read in the article was "Shaun Tan thinks this, Shaun Tan thinks that and Shaun Tan believes this is the only way Sabahans should think and react".

    "A stupid belief without a shred of empirical evidence to support it doesn’t deserve any respect" <— I betcha that's why many OZ women have rejected and disrespected your empirically proven 5 cm dick size.

  9. Nevskee

    if they want to have "harmless fun" they should do it somewhere private

  10. Al_Mas

    Alamak Shaun, I just realise you are a goddamn missionary coming to spread to us primitives, the good news about the 'good and moral' values of your new found faith which includes exposing your butt to the wind and calling it 'harmless fun' after you upload it to social media for millions to view and 'like'.
    Chinese saying, "read too many books", referring to you, pseudo intellectual with a penchant for bombast. Means you are out of touch with reality. Out of touch with your own self. Being dishonest and pretending you are beyond self-contradition and shallowness.
    Shaun, most likely your parents worked damn hard to give you a decent education but they certainly did not expect you to return after just a few years, as a missionary expousing a new religion that's maybe a 100 years old and condemning values build over 1000s of years as 'stupid'.

  11. Malaysia Malaysia

    And that earthquake has shown everybody of the self-centered condescending mountain of stupidity that erupted from Shaun Tan.

  12. manson

    would u pee on a grave? or strip naked in a graveyard? you wouldn't. why? because u know that its disrespectful to the dead that are buried there. now a mountain might not be a graveyard, but to the natives and locals it is their 'graveyard'. its even named Mount Kinabalu, after 'akinabalu' which means the 'revered place of the dead'. u might think its uncivilized, to believe in superstition and shit. but do u know what is even more uncivilized? disrespecting and desecrating the beliefs and cultures of others. its almost similar to peeing on the cross for the christians, or burning the quran for the muslims. its the same level of insult. if you cannot come to terms with other people's beliefs and cultures, then please don't even think of venturing out of your country. if you're wondering, yes. im a native sabahan.

    • shaunzhimingtan

      If no one else is around and you feel like it, I don't see what's wrong with stripping in a graveyard. And there's nothing wrong with burning a Quran – how else do you dispose of unwanted Qurans?

      There's nothing uncivilized about disrespecting the beliefs and cultures of others – in fact being able to do so is the mark of a civilized society. If someone told me he believes the moon is made out of cheese, and that every month pieces of it are eaten by a giant cosmic mouse who then vomits it out, and that's the reason the moon seems to change in shape, I'd respect his right to hold such a belief, but there's no way I'd show any respect for the belief itself.

      The belief that the earthquake is caused by mountain spirits angry at naked bodies is at least as stupid, and deserves no respect whatsoever – how zealously some people cling to such a ridiculous belief is irrelevant.

  13. robinhood

    shawn the sheep hahahahah

  14. Robotisford

    Attaboy! Don't let stupid dictate what you can say to stupid.

  15. nyrendra

    I dont care what you think of our believe about the mountain. The mountain is very sacred…. you have to respect what we believe….Don't you ever say that we are stupid for believing it……… what do you feel if we say the same to what you believe?? Is it ok to you?

  16. Collin

    Shaun Tan, welcome to kk…:p

  17. Raff

    Shaun Tan didnt knew the LAW in Malaysia i guess..

  18. Daddy Cool

    Shaun, I do not agree with what you say :-( but I will defend to death your right to say it :-)

  19. numbnuts

    there’s a place and a time to argue about the merits of religion . Stripping naked and showing it off to the world is probably one of the worst ways to do it, and proves naught of the fallacies of religion , but of one’s own lack of maturity, culture, respect, and dignity.

  20. openyourminds

    please recommend stripping naked and pissing on top of Uluru in your next post, to show that you really mean what you say, and proof that is it not some clickbait article written to insult local aboriginal beliefs & culture just because you can get away with it with minimal flak.

    after all, you argument is that all these beliefs are hogwash and meant to be made a joke off.

  21. tantalau

    Shaun Tan triggered a hell lot of his own stupidity. Let's go to your place, get naked and urinate all the way. Well it's just for fun anyway

  22. sam

    Your claim to basis of rationality contradicts your entire comment here. Rationale actions also calls for respect and obedience to customary laws….since you are stepping into the area of someone else. Duh!!!! Friends steps into your house you expect them to use some rationality when enjoying your hospitality and not resort to all out personal self indulgence right??

    So since you claim there is no need to respect our people's belief….then i say…fuck you and your retarded blog here. A great way to create trouble. Dare you to go preach your shit in other places with beliefs you dumb cunt

  23. stanCH Lee

    I thought the MH370 Bomoh/Coconuts fiasco that made us an international laughing stock is hard to top. Till this nudist molehill is made into a mountain. On the international stage , no less. Without a doubt the earthquake is a tragedy. Some people with strong beliefs in the supernatural will of course say the spirits were angered. That is their right if it makes them happy. But having a Minister blame nude tourists for the disaster is beyond stupid. And we get angry when people think we still live on trees.

    • sam

      Well….u are not entirely wrong regarding that minister statement…but he believes in it. Therefore that is part of his faith. Can u respect that just as much as you don't believe in Allah but u respect others who do??

      • stanCH Lee

        This is the best argument for separation of church and state ever. As a person, I respect his right to his beliefs and superstition, but as a representative of a country of which I am a member, I do not agree that he should colour his explanations for a natural disaster with his private beliefs.

  24. bumi non malay

    To those Lame Brain posters who equate human behavior to tragegy…then Kelantan Flood is because of Idiot Sect IS Islam Hudud by PAS… and Devestating Flood in Pahang and UMNO IS Islamic 1MDB…. Please don't cover up inept and imcompetency of the UMNO-Bangsat Negara Team…PBS Katingan Included…all singing the same tune for Malaysia Racist Demise…. or like this BAM Racist acts:

    Muhiddin asked Khairy to bribe BAM to allow a malay badminton player more exposure and for the pride of UMNO Idiot Sect Racist Malay agenda!! [email protected]#$%^ Sports minister must resign like FIFA and Sultan Mahkota Pahang also to resign FAM….

    Zakry Latif-Hoon Thien How Ranked 32 was picked over Teik Cahi- Bin Shen Ranked 16 for world championship is the PEROGATIVE OF BAM RACIST IS NATIONAL body in cahoots with Sultan-Agong-Govenor. (think by teaming up with a Chinese the Racist Act would escape the SCRUTINY of citizen Malaysia sick of UMNO IS Islam Racist terrorist supporters Ideoklogy).

    Chong Wei Feng ranked 31 but Zulfadli Zulkiffli ranked 41 was selected for World Championship in Jakarta is another Racist Corruption act by the UMNO Supreme IS Council after Bribing Khairy to force RACIST BAM to do the Racist thing.

    How about Earth Quake is God's/Allah Anger with Racist Malaysia!!…Now for the Economic Collapse…the more your race , the more the suffering in disaster…like the Flood in Hudud Kealntan, Pahang…its LOGICAL!!…Don't Expect an earthquake that happens in IRAN, to have more Orang Asli Casulties in Iran than Iranians….some stupid people thinks like that!

  25. Lawesome Penguin

    Guys, guys, i think what Shaun meant was, there's a bloodlust to blame somebodies and these tourists happened to be at the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. His message was that the right blame should be ascribed to where it is due, and fellow Malaysians should see better than to hop on the bandwagon of condemning the tourists.

    Shaun's occidental way of outright questioning is, agreeably, not suitable in an oriental culture based on respect, which generated much debate here, so why don't we agree to disagree.
    However, i will agree with him that netizens behaving in threatening manners are disgraceful, an issue that stems from a a wider social context,

    Peace out

    • I personally think that cultures are not worth respecting; only people can be respected. You can't ask me to respect the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, for example; Muslims are taught that this is a blasphemy 'that shakes the heaven's throne'. But we can respect people who believe in that. The problem with the obnoxious tourists (I think they're on a spring break, during which all common sense is thrown away for their selfish fun) is that they're disrespectful to the locals. Of course the locals believe in a superstition. But why disrespect their feelings? It's tricky though; like Shaun said, 'pandering to (silly) sensibilities encourage them.' We can't pander to harmful beliefs; of course I don't think that belief in the sanctity of Mt Kinabalu is harmful, but the belief that the children are dead due to these nudists? That can be harmful.

    • Al_Mas

      I think the arrogance and the vandalism mentality lies in their uploading to social media to 'share' with the world their 'achievement'. Once they do that, it is no longer a 'private, confined to 10 persons' act. It has become a public act for all and sundry to see. It has become a show of arrogance arising from disrespect of "Malaysians", "Asians", "primitives". Underlying this childish act is an inherent racism which the emil kaminski guy is demonstrating clearly, succintly and arrogantly in his subsequent postings. Shaun missed this point, that by uploading to share with the 'public' it has become a public act and is no longer private harmless fun.

    • MF Sepikit

      My question is, similar to Kaminski, why did Shaun only highlighted ONLY the negative comments? There were a lot of sensible comments out there. There were at least two open letters directed to Kaminski and his bunch, written by Malaysian Melanie Lim and a Canadian Chris (I forgot his last name). In fact I was among the keyboard warriors out there trying explaining it over and over again why we are deeply hurt by the nudists action.. specifically Kaminski who continues to mock even to this day.

      What people failed to realize was the 'nudists' did not just disrespect the locals and our culture.. they proceded to insult and shove their culture down our throat in our own home, then mock us for being angry.

      As for the rest of the world that only sees and highlights the emotional threatning negative comments.. We are still grieving for our lost. It was barely a few days after the quake when Kaminski started to have his fun and continued to do so. I don't know about the rest of the world, but grief is a strong most of the times life altering experience. I strongly feel Kaminski was manipulating it for more attention to his channels/FB pages.. and we fell right into it.

  26. Chris

    Bro shaun. If i am you i will be very carefull in making any public statement on this issue at this point of time. Seriously my bro, you may not want provoke the sabahan by showing them that you think it is wrong for them to be upset with some nude tourists disrespecting their culture. Anyway in the event you are still insisting upon your point. Please feel free to preach it to the sabahan. I wish you all the best.

  27. Al_Mas

    Really Shaun, you sound like an atheist. But you walk around with a Shaun in front of your Chinese surname so if you are Christian you will have to believe in angels, devils and Satan. You have to believe in Son of God. Are these rational? As a Muslim my creed requires me to believe in the Unseen. Does that fit your defination of 'rational'? You defend the stripping in a sacred place as 'harmless fun' – where did that come from? Your Chinese ancestry? Nope. Your Asian ancestry? Nope. If you are Christian, your christian upbringing and beliefs? Nope. If you are Muslim, your Islamic values? Nope. So where did that come from? If you believe these guys can have 'harmless fun' here why did they not do so in Mount Sinai? Or any of the mountains in the Middle East right now?
    You my friend are expousing values that are not found in the society you chose to live in and give your opinion about. You are in the wrong place friend. Chinese say, read too much books.

    • shaunzhimingtan

      Perhaps the values I espouse aren't generally found in Malaysia. But if they aren't I say that they damn well should be. A good and moral writer will try and make the society he lives in better.

      I didn't know there was such a thing as reading too many books. You, however, seem to read too few.

      • Sarah

        Shaun! Let's send some people to the graves of your family/relative and have them have some "harmless fun", maybe dig up the grave or piss in it or just take a shit. Seriously some people get turned on doing those stuff I've heard. No harm done to anyone…just some dead skeletons. After all who cares a shit about Respect for someone elses beliefs.

      • Al_Mas

        alamak Shaun, I just realise you are a goddamn missionary coming to spread to us primitives, the good news about the 'good and moral' values of your new found faith which includes exposing your butt to the wind and calling it 'harmless fun' after you upload it to social media for millions to view and 'like'.
        Read too many books means you are out of touch with reality. Out of touch with your own self. Being dishonest and pretending you are beyond self-contradition and shallowness.
        Shaun, most likely your parents worked damn hard to give you a decent education but they certainly did not expect you to return as a missionary expousing a new religion that's maybe a 100 years old and condemning values build over 1000s of years as 'stupid'.

      • Dominic Yusoff

        And what are the values system that you espouse? It surely can't be Western values as the West does not tolerate those who oppose their system. I refer of course to the Anti-Communist witch hunts of the USA and the jailing of radical Islamists because they are stupid to praise the Charlie Hebdo attacks/

  28. Bob

    Empirical evidence. Bedrock of rationality. Frothing primitives. Harmless fun. Much big words.

    Do you sleep better at night knowing that you used all this big words in an article?
    You must be getting a hard-on from all this comments of people questioning your intelligence and attempt at rationalized thinking. You must be thinking: "Oh, my god… These people just like don't get it.."
    You must be thinking: "Whatever…. They are like not smart enough to understand anywayyyyyy…. BRB JIZZING"

    Here's another one to wank off to. Fuck off. Take your condescending behind elsewhere.

    • John

      Shaun Tan is just like that Kaminski prick. Both are attention whores. Kaminski thought it would be funny to post his nude photo on Mt Kinabalu when people were mourning the death of their loved ones. Shaun Tan punk thought he should insult the Dusun people who have lived at Mt Kinabalu foot for generations and revere the mountain, as stupid.

      Good job Shaun. Just like Kaminski, expect to get your pompous, self-righteous ass kicked if you ever step foot in Sabah.

  29. CHY

    It is true that it shows Malaysians' stupidity for leaving such comments on his page, which make us no difference from him in being disrespectful to others. But I can see where they come from. What would you feel when your culture or belief being mocked? I embrace rationality in every aspect of my life. I even calculate my calorie intake before any meal(not for cutting weight but simply rational). But my rationality also tells me that what I believe in is not superior. Everyone is free to have faith or belief in whatsoever as long as it does not harm(no matter how irrational or illogical it can be). And respect is the way to go.

  30. DrPMartinez

    Super, Shaun. The reaction has been as cruel and as irrational as telling a couple, "you must have done something wrong that's why you lost your baby". Bad things happen to good people. We idiotic, vengeful, limited human beings should not anthropormorphise God, the Divine, Spirits whatever into our flawed image and thinking….

    • Jim

      Nice comment Martinez.

      Btw Shaun, when your parents die, please invite us Sabahans to their funeral so we can tell you this, "Shaun. You cannot, should not, and must not feel sad. Empirical data shows that your parents died at the right age. So it's about time they died. Your sadness is statistically irrelevant!"

  31. Harjinder Kler

    Wow, self righteous much? Why must you mock people's beliefs and once again, you miss the point. It's about a lack of respect. Pure and simple. You don't go to some one else's house/place of reverence and do what they did. People were angry before the earthquake by the way …

    But on and on we go in this merry go round cause it makes you feel better to mock others? To explain science that they already know and understand?

    Also why didn't you defend the right of the Malaysians charged with nudity on a beach? Or the lady in the Petaling Street incident? And why should these tourist not be charged as well under the same law? What makes them so special? I guess that is people like you defending them. Congratulations. Well done. Sleep well.

  32. Muthu

    Shaun Tan is a perfect example of why incidents like this happen. "My view is superior to yours! Therefore, I can do what like and need not consider whether my actions hurt you. In fact, you do not have the right to be angry with me because your view is nonsense. My view is the only right view!"

    So, it is "harmless fun" to go to your house, strip naked and urinate on the shrine or altar that your folks have set up at home. It is "harmless fun" to do the same in a temple, or a church, or a mosque. So, all religions are stupid beliefs because there isn't a shred of empirical evidence that their god exist. Therefore, you can treat their places of worship any way you like, even like a toilet, if you wish.

    I am shocked that a well-educated person like Shaun, with his bedrock of rationality, failed to realise that education is not just about what they taught you in grad school, not just about your qualification or your successful career.

    Education is also about taking what you learn in school, in life and in your everyday interaction with people to make you a better person spiritually.

    • VijiR

      I wonder what would happen if you went to Ayers Rock in Australia and tried this stunt. So Shawn, you going to defend them? Or it's OK if white men tell you what you can or cannot do? You are a silly little juvenile who seems to have missed the point. It's respect of other people's beliefs. It's not about the belief itself.

      • shaunzhimingtan

        I don't think you read the article properly – the point it makes is that there's no good reason to respect anyone else's beliefs. I don't respect anyone else's beliefs – I just respect their right to hold them – and that's what's needed for a free society.

        • Ian Zin

          You are a joke! You sound pretentious and no wonder people like you would never understand or grasp a simple concept of respecting others' beliefs. Don't talk about the free society if you don't have a basic humanity traits of respecting others. Seriously, get off your high horse. It's self-entitled fucks like you who caused a lot of troubles in this world.

          And yes, I throw away all my respect towards you in my comment because you don't deserve others' respect if you don't reciprocate.

        • I actually understand where you're coming from. I personally don't believe that nudity could cause an earthquake. But the act of stripping (and in some accounts, peeing on the mountain) is offensive to people who regard the burial place of their ancestors as sacred.

          Adding salt to wounds, one of the feckless idiots goes around calling random Sabah towns as "shithole" and "crap place." Now, I am not Sabahan, but I am Malaysian, and I am very offended, by this callous lack of respect and basic decency from a foreigner.

          • Dominic Yusoff

            Not just that. It is also illegal. Many Western countries that Shaun says that are not backward have laws that ban nudity outside of nudity beaches etc.

      • Ayers Rock gets 350,000 visitors a year. Tourists have been pissing and shitting on the top for years… because there are no public facilities there. You can try and hold it in as long as possible, but when you got to go you got to go. Its really not got anything to do with what white men tell you you can or cannot do.

    • Joe

      Q1. Is there a sign on the mountain indicating "no nudity here please' or this mountain is a worship shrine or temple to a particular god and it's worshippers?
      Q2. Why didn't the authority assign tour guide to all tourists going to the mountain to educate,direct and instruct tourists on behavioural conduct on the mountain so as not to offend some mountain spirits to forestall earthquake killing innocent children.
      I think the shameful reactions of Malaysians are condemnable and disgusting. Tourism brings good money to the state and country. This mountain is purely commercialised. You don't keep your shrine in a commercial place without adequate notices of dos and don'ts.

      • Daniel

        HI Joe, are you even listening to yourself?

        Q1. If you need to be told not to be naked in public, I guess you're mentally ill.
        Q.2 To climb Mt Kinabalu you must have a tour guide aka "malim". In this issue, the guide did told tell them not to get naked and do such thing. Why did you even comment without understanding the whole picture? DO NOT TALK FOR THE SAKE OF TALKING. DO YOUR RESEARCH OR YOU'LL BE "EMPTY CAN".

    • sam

      Well said muthu….

    • shaunzhimingtan

      Well actually a true education is about thinking critically. That means you don't accept norms which are silly or unjust just because people believe in them. It means you don't have to accept things the way they are and can try to change society to make it better. So education actually encourages people to do what I'm doing.

      • Dominic Yusoff

        Yes and no. Education also ensures that you are aware of the sensitivities of others. Which is why white Americans these days don't call blacks words like "boy, negro or spook" anymore because such words would offend them. I don't see how the norms in this case are unjust. Malaysia, like most Western countries, have anti-nudity laws and a violation of these laws comes with punishment. The death threats are extreme yes but not the fact that these tourists have been detained.

  33. Pei Ling

    Hi Shaun

    I believe you miss including human psychology in your version of rationality.

    Q1: Is it wrong for people to love and revere a mountain they associate with the resting place of their ancestral spirits?

    Q2: Is it wrong for the above people to feel hurt and angry when someone else display utter contempt to the place of their love and reverence?

    Nevertheless, I believe anger is never a justification of violence. I agree that the tourists should be free from state persecution, though I wouldn't disagree with a ban of them from Mt Kinabalu to prevent future outrage.

    Another example, I don't believe in the Taoist ritual of burning paper money but does that give me the right to strip naked and pee in front of people doing so in the name of 'harmless fun'? Or to think it's my right to strip naked and pee randomly at a Muslim or Christian cemetery just because I don't believe in souls or those religions?

    No. The locals in Sabah are angry for similar reasons. It's not trivial at all. I don't believe the tourists caused the earthquake but I can understand why many Sabahans are outraged. Hey we welcome you to our place and you would defile our ancestral's resting place for 'fun'?

    Acts of defiance eg Rosa Park sitting at the front section of a bus meant only for white people, citizens defying police ban to rally for electoral reform etc need to be done thoughtfully.

    Thoughtless, ignorant acts of defiance only add to societal conflicts.

    • shaunzhimingtan

      There's nothing wrong with either of the two things you mention, but it is silly to be overly sensitive about them.

      I don't think what the tourists did showed 'utter contempt to the place of their reverence' – what's so wrong about a bit of nudity? How does that defile anything? Are we still small children that we'd make so much fuss about a naked body? And it seems pretty unreasonable to try to claim an entire fricking mountain for yourself and then try to ban people from doing all sorts of harmless stuff on it.

      The problem with the examples you give is that they don't translate into what actually happened. Someone stripping naked and peeing in front of someone burning paper money would be forcing them to look at his genitals and so would amount to harassment, and that would be like if those tourists got naked on the mountain and then jumped in front of other people waving their cocks at them.

      From what we know, it seems the tourists broke off from the their main group and went off by themselves and stripped and took photos. I don't see any other people near them in the photos. In other words, no one was or is being forced to look at anything they don't want to – if you don't want to see the pictures, don't click on them online. That's the way to live in a civilized society – if you want to look at them then look, if you don't, don't and mind your own business.

      • Pei Ling

        Hmm, now that you mentioned it, I was just thinking last night that if the tourists have stripped naked and pray at the mountain (an act of submission), and took a photo of that, it might have generated a more diverse reaction?

        I don't think nudity is as big an issue as peeing, which can be interpreted as an act of contempt. My interpretation came from reading about the tourists hurling vulgarities at their mountain guide who tried to stop them. I think that's an act of arrogance and pretty uncivilized behavior to treat someone who just brought you up a pretty tricky mountain. Just because you have paid him to guide you doesn't give you the right to behave rudely to him.

        You are right in pointing out that to blame them on the earthquake or wish them harm is definitely taking it too far.
        Yes we should show compassion to the tourists even though they have acted like ignorant, willful brats. But that shouldn't stop us from telling them off sternly for being ignorant and arrogant.

        There are a lot of people that have been up that mountain, and more will go. Be fair to the Sabahans who have welcomed most people. In my understanding of civility, reciprocating good will is a basic element.

        It is always tricky to be in foreign cultures, my personal experiences in foreign cultures is that people will be forgiving as long as your cultural offense is unintentional, and you are quick to adopt the culturally respectful speech/action, displaying humility. Even when I was in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I was told not to whistle in a certain place because it will offend local spirits. So hey, it isn't just Sabahans or religious followers that have supernatural belief.

        • shaunzhimingtan

          Yes, I think they were quite rude to the mountain guides, and they shouldn't have said those things. But there's plenty of rudeness in the world every day, and while we should discourage it, I don't think it's worth all this fuss.

          I don't actually know what's the issue with the peeing – assuming they actually did pee, and weren't just posing. It's not like there was some holy statue there and they peed directly on top of it.

          It takes days to climb the mountain, and even from Laban Rata resthouse to the peak, it takes many hours. From what I remember there aren't many toilets. I must have peed many times in many random places when I climbed that mountain years ago – I was just careful not to pee on the walking paths because that would have been unsanitary for other people.

          • Niq

            Diorg kencing suka2 la… Mmg la tak salah nak kencing.. Just imagine.. Org kencing dpn rumah ko.. Ko ketawa ka?.. After all diorg just kencing sj kan?!

        • Hey Pei Ling!

          I, like you, do not think nudity is such a big issue! One of the guys, Emil, takes a naked selfies (back to the camera, thankfully!) on top of mountains… its his thing. Its not my particular cup of tea, but I do think it must be kinda cool to stand before the power and majesty of a mountain naked like every other animal on it! He has said he only does it in remote areas… i had a quick look at his facebook photos… he doesn't flash his bum anywhere else as far as i can tell! But so what if he does!

          The problem with this story, for me, is that there is the assumption or presumption that this was an act of contempt… which i think is more hype than fact.

          The urination part of the narrative is highly inflammatory. I have seen comments likening it to peeing in the Sistine Chapel, or on the shire or altar that your folks set up at home, or as you say, peeing in a Muslim or Chinese cemetery. This is not remotely the same thing. They were in the wilderness on top of a mountain… where do you go when you have to go? Is Mount Kinabalu covered in public toilets? Some people have likened this to Ayers Rock – "what would happen if you went to Ayers Rock in Australia and tried this stunt"… well, they have the same problem!… There are either adequate public facilities or close the site to climbers or put up with natural bodily functions as a compromise in return of tourist dollars. Those are the choices! People have been climbing Mt Kinabalu since 1881… I wonder how many times its been peed on…?

          • Pei Ling

            Hi Steve!

            I'm sure many people have peed around the mountain, including the guides themselves, in private :) But I think it's clear these guys disrespected the very guide that brought them up the mountain?

            Called me old school, I can forgive people who are rude and childish, I know they can still be good-hearted deep down but that ain't gonna stop me from calling them out when they display thoughtless, egoistic behavior. I don't think we should encourage the trend for people to become more narcissistic.

            If they had held a banner to protest against the Kaiduan dam or a solidarity statement for the stateless children or natives in Sabah, I would be the first to support them, naked or not. They would have made news still as foreigners doing that. And the state government would still have wanted to ban them. So much more meaningful stuff they could have done atop such a magnificent mountain kan?

    • pete

      very well said indeed

  34. Mr Bojangles

    In the meantime I will continue to enjoy the Voyage of the Continents series on Discovery.
    It shows that the mountains and shores and lands and seas have been doing a merry dance all over this beloved planet for millions of years. In facts they are still doing so.

    Do you think they will get upset and blow up and kill innocent children just because some unfortunates decided to strip and behave like idiots just because they wanted to savor the cool atmosphere atop one of its brethren?

    • Jim

      That's a pretty stupid comment, although can't expect much from a guy who learns the movement of continents by watching the Discovery Channel.

      I am a superb footballer. I watch ESPN everyday. LOL.

    • Rtq

      "I therefore call on my fellow Malaysians to drop this farce" <—And why the fuck should we abide by your call? Who the fuck you think you are?

      Shaun Tan, a certified moron.

  35. Chow

    I agree with most of your comments except this line which I find it a flawed concept and this type of thinking have led the world into turmoil.

    "A stupid belief without a shred of empirical evidence to support it doesn’t deserve any respect, no matter how zealously held, whether by an atheist or a Christian, a Muslim or a Dusun. This is the bedrock of rationality. By pandering to silly sensibilities we encourage them. No one should be harmed for doing something that did no harm to anyone else — and, no, imagined harm from offended hair-trigger sensibilities doesn’t count."

    What you believe in, in this case science, cannot be imposed to others to follow or a basis of benchmark. Respect their beliefs even in your opinion is absurb. Just because science cannot explain certain things, it does not mean it does not exist. You must prove the non existence first to consider it non existence.

    BTW, I am science guy.

    War starts when respect is lost

    • Sarah

      Well Said Chow. I am not a superstitious person or religious for that matter. It is common courtesy to be decent and respectful for others belief. Very simple. "My house my rules. You cannot follow just get the hell out".

      What does your rationality tell you if someone pissed at your loved ones grave, Shaun? WOuld you be than saying, yeah go ahead, take a shit if you want just because it's a piece of land covering some carcas of your loved ones?!

      SCIENCE IS BELIEVING! Go figure it out.

      • lim

        Shaun tan ,
        As a living human beings , brothers should not have to consider the fact checking our leaders stupid just because it can not be proven by science . However you can climb and tried to violate the taboos that exist.

    • Bob L.

      "A stupid belief without a shred of empirical evidence to support it doesn’t deserve any respect".

      So Shaun Tan, what's your belief then? It's pretty obvious from your previous and current articles that you don't believe in any religious belief. And with that inflated view of yourself, let's call your 'superior' belief, "The Shaun Tan belief system".

      Empirically, let's count how many people practice this "Shaun Tan belief system". Let's see, there's Shaun Tan himself (I see in yr bio that you like talking abt yrself in 3rd person), and… nada!

      So you've got only one believer. One Shaun, one. Do you know how piss poor statistically that is? One person surely can't qualify as an empirical evidence!

      So it seems that "The Shaun Tan Belief System" fails to provide any shred of supporting empirical evidence. Hence it's a stupid belief system that doesn't deserve any respect.

      Let's say it out loud "The Shaun Tan belief system", LOL.

    • MEL

      Well said Chow!

    • shaunzhimingtan

      I don't 'believe' in science, at least not in the same way people believe in religion and superstition.

      Scientists amass knowledge by applying logic to empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. It's a long and painstaking process – but it's how you obtain true knowledge.

      What the Malaysian government should do actually is to send a delegation of naked climbers to the peak of Mount Kinabalu and see if it results in an earthquake. If after an adequate sample size – say for the sake of argument ten naked delegations – is gathered, you'd draw conclusions. If ten out of the ten times an earthquake results, a scientist would have to consider that there IS truth to the idea that nakedness at a 'holy' site can anger supernatural forces and cause earthquakes, and a lot of what we think we know would have to be rethought and rewritten. The reason no rational person accepts that notion however, is because there's no known correlation between nakedness at 'holy' sites and earthquakes. Scientific knowledge can stand up to experimentation and critical enquiry, religions and superstitions cannot, that's why they're completely different.

      Seriously, the Malaysian government really SHOULD conduct this experiment. Then maybe we'll be able to ascertain the truth. And if no earthquake results, maybe it'll help cure a significant section of the population of their stupidity.

      I think there's a difference between respect for others' beliefs and respect for their right to hold their beliefs. I don't think it's realistic to expect people to respect each other's beliefs. Christians think the beliefs of Muslims are at best wrong and misguided. Even within a religion, say Christianity, Protestants think Catholics' belief that the pope is God's representative on earth is false. Can you expect someone to respect beliefs he thinks are wrong and false?

      Likewise, if someone told me he believes the moon is made out of cheese, and that every month pieces of it are eaten by a giant cosmic mouse who then vomits it out, and that's the reason the moon seems to change in shape, I'd respect his right to hold such a belief (I think he should be allowed believe what he wants in peace), but there's no way I'd show any respect for the belief itself. The belief that the earthquake is caused by mountain spirits angry at naked bodies is at least as stupid, and deserves no respect whatsoever.

      Respect for people's right to hold a belief is all we need for a peaceful and thinking society. Everyone should be allowed to believe what they want as long as they don't harm others.

      • Rod

        Gte your ball sticking on ur forehead……guess only then he gets the message that their's 'something' out there….