Police have arrested a 27-year-old assistant divemaster in Semporna, Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, on suspicion of molesting a female diver while they were under water together on 5 May.
Sinar Harian, 27, said by the police to work part-time for a local dive-centre, was taken into custody from his home in a water village on 7 May.
The 24-year-old Chinese woman, who had been on holiday in Malaysia, was said to have reported the alleged incident at around 10am the day after it occurred. Shortly after this she had boarded a flight home via Kuala Lumpur and began posting about her experiences on social media.
According to a Semporna police statement, the woman had been diving at about 1pm in a group off the resort island of Mataking when she claimed that Harian had kissed her under water without her consent. She is also said to have reported that the divemaster had used the WeChat app to pester her into spending the night with him before she returned home.
Harian was remanded in custody until 11 May while the police investigate the case under a section of the penal code that refers to using criminal force to threaten a victim’s modesty.
Social media ripples
The woman had shared her account of the incident on Douyin, a Chinese video app similar to TikTok, expressing her hope that the Sabah authorities would take action against the divemaster so that no one else would have to experience similar harassment.
Her post led to images taken by another diver purporting to show the stolen kiss being widely shared on social media, along with a police report and examples of alleged dialogue between Harian and the woman.
In Malaysia this online activity in turn prompted a local group, Sabah Dive Squad Club, to issue a call for dive-centre staff to act professionally at all times, and for operators to conduct refresher training on the code of ethics governing relationships between staff and clients.
Operators needed to check the qualifications of all dive staff, said the club, while visiting divers should ensure that they dived only with approved centres. Such precautions would, it said, protect the reputation of the diving and tourism industries and prevent lawsuits against dive operations.
The calls to tourism operators were then echoed by Sabah’s police commissioner at a press conference.
Also on Divernet: Instructor Jailed For Molesting Trainee, Malaysia Looks To Ease Sipadan Quotas, Fall-Out After Barge Flattens Mabul Corals, Sipadan Diving Standards Questioned