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No new kidnapping
Published on: Friday, June 17, 2016
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No new kidnapping
Kuala Lumpur: Claims of four Malaysians being abducted by Sulu gunmen in a fresh case Thursday turned out to be the work of rumour-mongers.Several Philippines online news portals quoting a Philippines police official who apparently is a police director of Tawi-Tawi Island had alleged that four unidentified Malaysians were snatched off the coast of East Malaysia and brought to Sulu via the shores of Sitangkai.

Malaysian police who were in the dark about the claim scrambled to verify the news report with their Philippines counterpart following enquiries made by the media here.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that on checking with the relevant authorities, police learnt that the claim was false as no such abduction had occurred.

Last week, four Malaysian sailors who spent more than two months in captivity in the hands of Sulu gunmen in the South of Philippines were freed by the kidnappers after negotiations by the Malaysia and Philippines authorities.

On April 1, brothers Wong Teck Kang, 31, and Wong Teck Chii, 29, and their cousin Johnny Lau Hien, 21, and Wong Hung Sing, 34, all from Sibu, Sarawak, were abducted from a Malaysian-registered tugboat sailing close to Pulau Ligitan waters, off Semporna.

They were released at about midnight on June 8, but it was not immediately clear if ransom was paid.

However, a relative of one of the four, spoke out about rumours suggesting that the hostages were released after a ransom of RM12 million raised in donations from the public since their plea to release the hostages was highlighted in the media.

It was reported that the Abu Sayyaf had earlier demanded a ransom of RM18 million (P190 million) in exchange for their freedom.

Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to the Islamic State, have become notorious for kidnapping, earning millions of dollars in ransom.

The militants regularly abduct foreigners and locals to extort money for their release.

In May, the Abu Sayyaf released 14 Indonesian sailors who were kidnapped in two high-seas raids similar to the abduction of the Malaysians.

The kidnappings prompted Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to launch joint patrols in their waters and set up a security hotline.

It was reported that in April 25, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded Canadian hostage John Risdel after a deadline for paying a ransom of US$6.4 million passed.

Risdel was kidnapped along with a Canadian friend, Robert Hall who was also beheaded last week allegedly after a P600 million ransom the militant group demanded for his release was not delivered before the 3pm deadline.

In November last year, they beheaded a Malaysian, Bernard Then, from Sarawak, who was kidnapped together with a Malaysian woman at a restaurant in Sandakan, but the woman was freed.

Earlier, State Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said he would leave it to Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to issue a statement in regards to the RM12 million collected from donors.

It was reported that Datuk Lau Cheng Kiong, who is the uncle of Johnny Lau Jung Hien, said the families raised RM12 million in donations from the public including RM1 million from the mortgage of their two houses at Pulau Li Hua and the employer of the four contributed RM2 million.

Lau said all the money including the donations were handed over to the police in Sandakan.

However, last week, IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was reported as saying that no ransom was paid and the release was achieved through negotiations between the kidnappers and a joint Malaysia-Philippines team.

On another development about Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) personnel being arrested by the Philippines Navy, Abdul Rashid brushed this aside as rumour.

"It is best not to listen to rumours…and do not spark speculation over the incident. I wonder where this information comes from," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Ex-Police Association Sabah branch new chairman Sergeant Major (Retired) Awang Kassim bin Awang Gemok advised retired policemen in Sabah who have yet to register with the association to do so, so that their welfare and wellbeing could be looked after. He also cautioned the public not to channel their donations to any quarters using the name of the association.


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