Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Is Mount Kinabalu the Highest Mountain in South East Asia?

Mt Kinabalu (by Oscark for Wikipedia)
In 2004, I got the opportunity to travel Sabah (in Borneo) for the first time and part of the trip was to hike Mt Kinabalu. Prior to my incomplete ascent of the mountain, the guide stated the fact Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. My dad said to the guide that I disagreed the fact. So the guide changed bit of his mind, said for in terms of accessibility in SE Asia, it would be highest

For Malaysians, in our geography textbook states that Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia and its height is 4101 metres. IT was taken as a fact but soon, some of us argue that statement is false and others insist the fact Mt Kinabalu is the highest in South East Asia. Let's dissect this statement into two categories:
Mt Kinabalu
The highest Mountain in South East Asia
It's height is 4101 metres

In 1997, using satellite technology, Mt Kinabalu lost 6 metres on its height (revised height is 4095.2 metres). This is nearly the same height of Mount Cameroon (subject to change), the highest mountain in Cameroon. Unfortunately, the old height figure got crossed over to the revised Geography Syllabus of 2003.


That leaves the first statement in dispute. I decide to poll my friends view on this matter. 23 people participated. The question posed: 'Is Mt Kinabalu the Highest Mountain in South East Asia?' The responses as below:

Survey Results:
Yes: 35%
No: 61%
I don't know: 4%

I am going to argue for reasons of Yes and No for the question


Those who argue on this premise may believing in what Malaysian Geography Syllabus stated long time ago. Some may said yes based on their research on websites.
Argument 1
The whole issue of this dispute stems from the fact what defines South East Asia. To nominate Mt Kinabalu as the highest peak in SE Asia, Burma and New Guinea should be defined outside of SE Asia. Burma used to be part of British India, so it should be included to South Asia category. New Guinea is claimed to be the largest island in Oceania. In Burma, there is Hkakabo Razi (5881 m) and Indonesian Side of New Guinea have four to five mountains higher than Mt Kinabalu. By kicking out Burma and New Guinea, your claim is correct.

Argument 2
Some of you argue, Burma is part of SE Asia and New Guinea (including Papua, formerly Irian Jaya) is part of Oceania. On that premise, you argue that Hkakabo Razi is part of Himalayas and it is very close or on the borders with China/India. Since it is part of Himalayas and bordering on other countries, Hkakabo Razi cannot be claimed to be highest. In short, its claim is disputed. You may point that language family group of people residing around the mountains is more related to China, than to South-East Asia.


Over the years, some of us fell love in geography or did some further research. What they found disproved the fact Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in SE Asia
Argument 1
South East Asia is defined from Myanmar (Burma) to Indonesia (Papua Region). ASEAN includes Burma and because of this, Hkakabo Razi is the highest mountain South East Asia. United Nations for statistical reasons put Myanmar in South East Asia, not in South Asia. In Papua alone, there are four to five mountains exceeding 4100 metres. Puncak Jaya (4884 m - not the old figure of 5030 m) is the highest peak in Papua, the highest  island mountain in the world and the highest mountain between Himalayas and Andes. Definitely, these two peaks are much higher than Mt Kinabalu

On this premise, Mt Kinabalu can get the consolation prize for being the highest mountain between Himalayas and New Guinea or the Malay Archipelago (excluding New Guinea).

Argument 2
This argument is subset of the first argument. Assuming Google Maps border is correct, I found that Hkakabo Razi lies wholly within Burma (it is close to the border with China). Even if it shares the border with China, it wouldn't matter. For example, Mt Everest is the highest mountain for both China and Nepal. On that premise, Hkakabo Razi rightfully claim the title of the highest mountain South East Asia

Concluding Remarks

In my opinion, I would say no to the fact Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia (even the official Mt Kinabalu park website would say that). I am basing my stance with above arguments.

However, I am not implying the fact those who said Yes were duped or lied or totally wrong. It goes back to the question, 'Where are the borders of  South East Asia?'. Does a mountain shared by two countries could claim be part of SE Asia?

I leave it to you guys to decide on this matter.

P.S. I would like to credit UN, Wikipedia, Other blogs, other websites for building these arguments.

1 comment:

  1. Everest Base Camp Trekking:Along with hiking through mountains and valleys, the Everest base Camp lets you travel through traditional Sherpa villages and Gompas means monasteries. We view the chaste peak Buddhist customs and their sacred peaks and valleys as well. The beauty of the great Mount Everest lying in the background of all other immense peaks can be spotted as the trek culminates at the foothills of the Everest Base Camp.
    Trekking in Nepal
    Everest Base Camp Trekking
    Annapurna Circuit trekking
    Manaslu Circuit trekking
    Kanchenjunga base camp Trekking
    Mansaarovar Kailash Shiva Parbat Yatra