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Yet another kidnap
Published on: Friday, April 04, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Two women - a China student-tourist and a Filipina resort employee - were abducted by an armed kidnap-for-ransom group at the Singamata Adventure and Reef Resort located 2.2 nautical miles or 10 minutes by boat from Semporna town at 10.30pm, Wednesday.

A passenger boat with seven men arrived at the resort, three masked men then alighted and climbed the stairs before randomly abducting their victims at 11pm. Police believe the victims have been brought to Philippine waters.

A total of 61 tourists, comprising 59 China nationals, one Malaysian and one Iranian, were in the 60-room resort which has been in operation since 2004, when the incident occurred. It was also learnt that there were 47 resort staff at the time.

All have been brought to the district police station to get their statement.

It was the second such incident in four months. On Nov 15, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his female companion abducted by an armed group at the Pom-Pom Island Resort located some 14 nautical miles off Semporna.

The woman was released 35 days later, after an undisclosed ransom amount was reportedly paid, to secure her freedom. The incident was also attributed to a kidnap-for-ransom group.

State Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib identified the first woman in the latest incident as Marcy Dayawan @ Mimi, a 40-year-old Visaya who had worked for the company for quite a while. She was based at the Semporna mainland prior to her transfer to the water resort two months ago.

The second woman was 29-year-old Gao Hua Yuan, from Shanghai who had checked into the resort on Wednesday and was scheduled to leave on Saturday.

"Based on investigations, she travelled alone and had gone to the resort with the sole purpose of taking her Open Sea Diving Licence certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) at the resort," Hamza told a media conference, Thursday.

It was believed that the woman was standing on the verandah outside her room as she played with her handphone when the men randomly grabbed her.

"We are still investigating the real motive behind this abduction, perhaps they were looking for the Filipina and grabbed the student who happened to be at the wrong place and wrong time," he said.

The case is being probed under Section 4 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 and Section 365 of the Penal Code for kidnapping or abducting. Hamza said police have leads, which they believe could facilitate investigations.

"After visiting the scene, I believe this was done with the help of someone inside because this is a floating resort similar to Kapalai Resort, which is surrounded by a system which prevents boats from coming in.

"Only those familiar with this system would know how to gain access into this resort and we believe this is a kidnapping for ransom group even though we have not received any demands for ransom so far," he said, adding that they are still identifying the type of weapons used in the incident.

"We have informed the Chinese Consul-General in Kuching and alerted our counterparts in the Philippines on the incident," he said, adding that the resort operates as usual despite the incident.

A 25-year-old Assistant Chef of the resort said he was sleeping in the staff quarters located at the edge of the resort, when he heard shouts like people arguing.

He heard a boat engine followed by more shouting, adding that the engine sounded like the boat was docked right in front of the reception area.

Another witness, a 50-year-old wiring technician, recalled having a drink while watching television at the Dive Center, when three men, one wearing a mask, climbed to the room and told him not to move.

He claimed that he jumped into the sea to escape and recalled seeing the four unmasked men on the boat which was near the stairs to the reception center.

He described them as armed with M14 and the boat measuring about eight-feet in length to have white blue stripes on the side, adding that the boat engine might be 40-horse power.

He described them as armed with M14 and the boat measuring about eight-feet in length to have white blue stripes on the side, adding that the boat engine might be 40-horse power.

t measuring about eight-feet in length to have white blue stripes on the side, adding that the boat engine might be 40-horse power.

A 24-year-old resort staff, Pirut Ismail, said he only realised what had happened after hearing a commotion outside. Pirut who worked as a boat driver for 11 years, said the student and her female companion had stayed in room Number 6 of the block located at the end of the resort.

"Prior to the incident, I saw her resting on the verandah, while her companion was in the shower," he said.

He also spoke of Mimi who he described as his best friend who worked in the front office.

Meanwhile, daily activity is going on as usual around Semporna town, but not many people were seen at another floating tourism centre in the Dragon Inn area after the incident. A 40-year-old resident, Hassan Jamal, said security personnel can be seen patrolling the area particularly when such incidents occur.

Another resident, 30-year-old Mohd Hatta, said he knew about the incident from his neighbour, but that did not stop him from going about his daily chores. In Kunak, fishermen still go down to fish, without realising what had happened.

One 25-year-old fisherman, Jurmubin, said they even sailed their fishing boat to Pangi in Kunak to fish without any untoward incident.

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