KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry (KePKAS) will take harsh action against a scuba diving operator in Semporna if allegations of sexual assault by one of its instructors are proven true.
KePKAS Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said she had instructed Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Ken Pan Ying On to carry out thorough investigations against the company after two women from China claimed they were groped.
"This kind of behaviour is unacceptable.
"We are very proud of Sabah, especially Semporna with its reputation as a diving haven. These kinds of black sheep among the divemasters (and instructors) will tarnish our image," she said.
"We will investigate this case thoroughly, and if necessary take very harsh action (against those involved). No doubt about it," Liew told reporters after launching the 9th Navy Day Open Regatta and Mega Dive 3.0 at Sepanggar on Saturday (April 13).
Meanwhile, Semporna district police chief Supt Peter Umbas said his side had yet to receive an official report on the case.
"Of course, to investigate this kind of case, our prime witness is the victim. Without the victim, we cannot proceed.
"Since there are no official reports yet, there is no police investigation so far," he explained, when contacted.
Two women from Shenzhen, China, claimed they were groped by their instructor during their visit to Semporna, Sabah, in March.
China Press reported that the two tourists were introduced to the diving instructor by a local travel agency.
When they were diving underwater, one of the tourists alleged that the instructor kept holding her hand and then touched her back, as shown in a video and photos posted on the Sina Weibo social media site.
The two women reported the incident to the travel agency, which carried out a probe.
Both parties then decided to settle the matter with compensation amounting to 3,000 renminbi (RM1,841.16).
However, after returning to China a few days ago, the women claimed they had not received the compensation money.