Sabah State Education director Datuk Jame Alip says that the state is considering only restricting children under 15 from climbing Mount Kinabalu. This comes after the tragic death of 6 children in the 5th June earthquake which claimed 16 lives.
Jame says that he has spoken about this matter to Malaysian Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
“We will bring it up in our next meeting. For me, 15 years seems like a more reasonable age,” Jame said.
Jame says he was surprised about the death of the students because he did not know about the school trip up the mountain.
Jame added, “We were not told about it. The slopes are steep and dangerous. I would not encourage children below 15 to climb the mountain.”
He recalled his experience of trekking up the mountain when he was 20 years old and said that even then, it was a challenge.
“I cannot imagine how it would be like for young students.”
The official Mount Kinabalu website states that climbers should be at least 10 years old.
Jame also suggested that the Education Ministry in Malaysia institute earthquake drills for students nationwide.
“Students are generally taught that in an emergency situation, they should drop everything and run down the fire escape. But that only applies during fires. When an earthquake strikes, you do the opposite — you drop to the ground, take cover and hold on. The children must know this.”
Malaysian bloggers have also weighed in on the tragedy, including one blogger who claims to be a 50 year-old mountaineering veteran.
“Right now, the official Mount Kinabalu website cheerily gives the impression that anyone between 10 and 80 who is reasonably fit, can make the climb. That is inaccurate and dangerous information.”
He said a disturbing question was whether Tanjong Katong Primary School authorities did adequate research on the climb before deciding to take the schoolchildren up the mountain.
“Or did they like many others, accept information off the official website?”