Pembebasan pelancong Cina & pekerja Filipina - Malaysia bayar RM30 juta?
PETALING JAYA (June 2): Malaysia paid close to RM30 million to secure the release of a Chinese tourist who was kidnapped in Semporna, Sabah two months ago.
Sources tell fz.com that the money was paid to Abu Sayyaf militants in exchange for the freedom of Chinese tourist Gao Huayun as well as Filipino hotel worker Marcy Dayawan -- to coincide with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's visit to China.
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)’s Nameh Sangkula is said to have been approached by Malaysian intermediaries in Jolo with the money as a trade-off.
It is understood an 'agent’s fee' of a few million ringgit was also paid to the cash-strapped MNLF, headed by Nur Misuari.
Both Gao, 28, and Dayawan, 40 were reportedly released in Parang, a small town in Sulu, where they were held.
The women have been issued with a gag order, barred from speaking to the Press.
Both women, who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants from the Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort on April 2, were freed on Friday.
Najib announced their release on Friday via Twitter while he was on an official visit to China and made pains to emphasise that “no ransom was paid”.
He had also commended the Malaysian and Philippine security forces for rescuing the women.
It was reported earlier that the kidnappers had demanded 500 million pesos (RM36.5m) for Gao.
Philippine sources had earlier told Reuters that a hefty ransom was paid for the women.
"It has been rare for Abu Sayyaf to release abductees without a ransom being paid," the Reuters report said.
"It makes sense that they are released as the Abu Sayyaf only kidnaps civilians for ransom, and there were no ground operations to rescue the hostages," a high placed source told fz.com.
He added the fact that Najib was in China when the two women, including the Chinese national, were freed seems all too coincidental.
"In fact, it was planned for the women, especially Gao to be released at that time," said the source.
After MH370 went missing on March 8 with 153 of the 239 passengers on board being Chinese nationals, ties with China have never been worse.
On Nov 15, Taiwanese tourist Li Min Hsu, 57, was shot dead when Abu Sayyaf gunmen stormed the Pom Pom Island Resort in Semporna and abducted his female companion Chang An Wei.
Chang, 58, was freed a month later after a ransom was paid.
On May 6, Chinese national Yang Zai Lin, 34, was abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen from a fish farm he worked on near Pulau Babi, Lahad Datu.
He remains missing.
However, the final straw was the missing plane and Malaysia’s handling of the crisis which received international ridicule.
The delivery of a pair of pandas which were due in April was delayed by over a month as both countries resolve their diplomatic issues. Both countries observe 40 years of diplomatic ties this year.
"Malaysia cannot afford having another incident involving a Chinese national," a source said, alluding to the ransom that was paid to secure Gao.
However, Malaysia’s generous policy of negotiating with terrorists more than likely means this will not be the last kidnapping in Sabah.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has not returned calls or messages for his comment - fz.com