ZAMBOANGA CITY –Authorities in Malaysia have wanted to establish contact with the Filipino kidnappers of two Malaysians in Tawi-Tawi, reports said on Friday.
It said Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib was quoted by Malaysia Chronicle as saying that they wanted to re-establish contact with the captors of palm plantation manager Chong Wei Fei, 33, and his cousin and assistant manager Chong Wei Jie, 25, who were kidnapped November 13 in Lahad Datu town.
Five gunmen disguised as policemen seized the two who were inspecting the plantation. The kidnappers dragged them to a boat and fled towards Tawi-Tawi.
The group has sent a photograph by email of the two men holding a piece of paper marked March 7, 2013 to The Star newspaper. The photo also showed two rifles trained at the men by their captors.
Reports said ransom negotiations for the hostages were disrupted by the intrusion of Sulu Sultanate forces in Lahad Datu which eventually ended in a fierce battle that left dozens of people dead.
Malaysian authorities believed the Abu Sayyaf was behind the kidnappings and the hostages are still alive.
“It is good news for their families and we pray for their wellbeing. But the case again shows how weak is our security in East Malaysia where the borders are so porous that foreign thugs can enter at will and whisk away our citizens for ransom,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told the Malaysia Chronicle.
“It is time for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government do more than just put out fires. There must be a better and more cohesive plan to protect our citizens in Sabah and Sarawak.”
There was no immediate statement from the Philippine government about the Malaysian hostages. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreigners and Filipino captives in the southern region. Manila has not released any progress reports on the Abu Sayyaf hostages.
In 2010, suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen also kidnapped Malaysian seaweed farmers Vui Chung, 42, and Lai Wing Chau, 33 in a raid on Semporna near Lahad Datu and brought them to Tawi-Tawi where they were ransomed off for two million ringgits.
In 2001, the Abu Sayyaf raided the island resort of Sipadan and seized 21 mostly Western holidaymakers and ransomed them off to Malaysia and Libya for millions of dollars.