SEMPORNA: Police are conducting an investigation to trace several individuals in connection with nude pictures of a group of tourists allegedly taken at Sibuan Island in Semporna.
Semporna District Police chief Supt Peter Umbuas said the police had received a report regarding the matter which had become viral in the WeChat and WhatsApp application that showed several men and women, believed to be tourists from China, taking pictures in the nude on the beach.
“Initial investigation reveals the pictures were taken between 2013 until two weeks ago and these pictures are believed to be taken as personal keepsakes only,” he said in a statement here.
“We are still investigating the authenticity of the photos, whether it was taken on an island in Semporna, as there were also claims that the photo was taken in another country,” he said.
He said the police had also sought the cooperation of the Immigration and international police (Interpol) to trace the individuals in those pictures.
“We are also asking Sabah Parks and tourist agencies to help us in our investigation by identifying those in the photos,” he said yesterday.
The case is being investigated under Section 294 of the Penal Code for doing obscene acts in a public place.
Among the pictures that were spread showed seven naked men with their backs towards the camera while a fully clothed woman was facing it.
Peter advised resort operators, freelance tour guides and diving instructors to explain the country’s laws and the sensitivity of the local community to tourists before they start their tours.
He said the naked photos of the tourists were uploaded on Facebook by an account owner Zymal Zam and had become ‘viral’ on the social media.
The complainant hoped the police and other agencies would take action against the individuals.
However, he said the police were unable to identify the tourists and they might already be back to their country of origin.
“We can only identify the individuals via Interpol and to work closely with the Immigration Department,” he added.
Semporna district officer Dr Chacho Bulah has also asked Sabah Parks and the police to investigate the claims.
“I was informed of this matter by one of the tourism association members, who said that he saw the pictures in Facebook,” he said.
“It’s just a claim for now so we don’t know if it really happened in one of our islands here though the background of the photographs circulated looks like Semporna,” added Dr Chacho.
He said he immediately wrote a letter to the relevant authorities after he was informed about it on Oct 19, urging them to investigate the matter.
“We do not take such matters lightly and do not want to see such things occurring in Sabah,” he added.
On May 31, photographs of European tourists stripping naked on top of Mount Kinabalu went viral and caused uproar among locals, especially the natives in Sabah, saying that the acts were disrespectful.
Four of the identified nudists – including a British, two Canadians and a Dutchman – were subsequently charged in court and sentenced to a three-day imprisonment for committing obscene acts in a public place, and ordered to leave Sabah immediately.