Malaysians angered by images of ‘Chinese tourists’ manhandling corals

PHOTOGRAPHS purportedly showing a group of tourists taking marine life out of their habitat at a local beach have left Malaysian netizens and nature lovers enraged, local media reported.

According to the New Straits Times, the images circulating on social media is thought to have been snapped at a beach in Malaysia.

In the photographs, the tourists, who are believed to be from China, can be seen posing with various types of corals that were apparently taken out of the water and brought to shore.

In one image, 16 people dressed in swimwear posed for a snapshot, with six holding up corals and starfish.

The group is also believed to be part of an international travel club called WorldVentures as one woman in a photograph was seen holding a sign with the words ‘You Should Be Here’ written on a blue banner, which was typical of the club’s Dreamtravels program.

The travel club’s Malaysian office, however, issued a statement to the NST to deny its involvement with the trip.

“WorldVentures has not organised any trip to Semporna (in Sabah). The trip was probably organized on the members’ own initiative,” the statement read.

“The incident is being investigated internally by our compliance department.”

The company added that it has always treated conservation and preservation of the environment as a top priority. The company’s compliance department is currently tracking down the members allegedly involved in the incident.

Netizens, however, are demanding stern action against the tourists in the photographs, which began circulating on social media last week. Many also believe the photographs were snapped at a Malaysian island, although this has yet to be confirmed.

In NST’s report, 27-year-old scuba diver Mohd Azwan Ali was quoted as saying that he was shocked by the pictures.

“Sea creatures should be respected,” he said. “As ‘visitors’ in their habitat, we should not simply touch anything under the water, let alone take it out to pose with for pictures.

“Such behavior would stress the starfish and even the corals, which might cause them to die.”

Muhammad Izzat Mainur, 25, shared Mohd Azwan’s frustration over the incident, saying it was unbelievable how some people can be so ignorant on respecting sea creatures.

“It saddens me to see how the corals and starfish were treated by this group of tourists. “We are not supposed to touch corals, as our hands are contaminated with bacteria, which can kill them, as they are very sensitive.

“We are supposed to protect them, and such behavior could damage the ecosystem,” he said.