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Another fish breeder kidnapped

Published on: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Two armed men abducted a 32-year-old fish breeder and a Filipino worker by sea in less than five minutes at Kg Air Sapang, some 10km from Kunak town, Monday - the third such incident in the East Coast of Sabah this year alone and fourth within six months.

The victim was also the second fish farm breeder to be taken hostage this year. Police believe the kidnappers managed to flee to Pulau Sitangkai (Philippines), about 40 minutes away.

The man, identified as Chan Sai Chiun and his 42-year-old wife, Chin Pek Nyuen, both from Ipoh, Perak, were said to have been awakened by dogs barking outside their house located within the caged fish farm owned by Malaysian based Darvel Bay Hybrid Aquaculture Sdn Bhd, which is about 500 meters from land.

State Criminal Investigation Department Chief SAC Omar Mammah said preliminary investigations showed that the couple decided to inspect what was happening when they heard people outside their premises at about 12.40am.

"They went out and saw two armed men dressed in dark clothing standing outside. The woman ran back into the premises when the men pointed their weapon at her husband who was then ordered into a waiting boat," he told a media conference at police headquarters in Kepayan, Monday.

"The boat is described as a fiberglass boat measuring 15 feet in length and four feet wide and the firearms used could be M16, we believe there might be others waiting in the boat.

"We believe they could have rowed close enough to the site because witnesses did not hear any sound of engine approaching the area and no shots were fired. We also believe that this is the same kidnap-for-ransom group responsible for previous kidnappings here," he said.

At the time of the incident, only the man, his wife, his two-year-old nephew, a business partner and three workers were at the fish farm, which has been in operation since four months ago.

No items were taken from the fish farm and it was learnt that the armed men spoke a bit of Malay but not fluently. Omar said the man's business partner alerted police at about 12.45am.

"Also abducted was a Filipino worker, identified as Maslan, in his 20s.

However we do not have any information on when he was abducted," he said, adding that police are investigating whether he had valid documents.

"We are also investigating the backgrounds of the other two workers and if the Malaysian fish farm operated by three partners are legal fish breeders," he said. He said police believe that Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu and Sandakan waters are the target for this group because of the geopgrahy.

"I think their target is not really resorts or fish farms, their target are human commodity that they feel can bring profit and human commodity can be anywhere," he said.

"The case is being investigated under Section 365 of the Penal Code for kidnapping and Section 4 of the Firearm (Increase Penalties) Act but if there are any demand for ransom then we will reclassify the case under Kidnapping Act," he said.

On allegations that the Filipino worker managed to escape, he said there has been no confirmation on the claims and they are still investigating.

It was said that the Filipino managed to jump out of the boat and swim to shore before alerting police of the incident.

Meanwhile, a fellow fish breeder, Khoo Mun Huah, expressed shock over the incident, adding that he knew Chan who has been with the company for some five months. Kunak District Officer Susilo Sumarto said it was business as usual for Kunak residents.

On May 6, five armed men abducted a 34-year-old Chinese national manager of a cage fish breeding company in Pulau Batik, Lahad Datu, just over a month after a Chinese national and a Filipina were abducted from a resort she was staying off Semporna.

Last November, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead while his female companion was kidnapped from Pom Pom island.

The hostage was later released and it is believed that ransom was paid. Kunak is among the districts located under the Eastern Sabah Security Command covering 1,400km from Kudat to Tawau.