China says unaware of Semporna ransom demand

On April 2, gunmen snatched Chinese tourist Gao Huayun and Filipino Marcy Dayawan from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna. — Reuters pic
On April 2, gunmen snatched Chinese tourist Gao Huayun and Filipino Marcy Dayawan from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — China officials are in the dark over a 500-million Philippine peso (RM36.4 million) demand for the release of one of the country’s citizens kidnapped from Semporna, Sabah last week.

Despite Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announcing on Thursday the demand by the abductors who took two women from a resort there, representatives of the Chinese consulate here told the country’s state media that this has not been communicated to the embassy.

The report by Beijing Times and reproduced by ChinaDaily.com did not, however, name the country’s officials who made the apparent denial.

On Thursday, Zahid announced the ransom note for Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 28, before adding that negotiations were ongoing to secure her release.

The minister added that no demand was made for the Filipina resort worker who was taken at the same time.

On April 2, just a day after the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) first anniversary, six gunmen snatched Gao and Marcy Dayawan, a 40-year-old receptionist from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna.

Sabah police have since reclassified the abductions as kidnappings after allegedly receiving phone calls from the perpetrators, but had refused to divulge information on the ransom demands.

The Abu Sayyaf, a group of Filipino militants known to have taken several tourists and Malaysians hostage for ransom, are the suspected perpetrators.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen also abducted a Taiwanese tourist last November from Pulau Pom Pom, off Sabah’s east coast, killing her husband during the abduction.

The abduction of the Chinese tourist came just as a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying mostly Chinese nationals disappeared on March 8 while en route to Beijing.

Relations between China and Malaysia that is now in its 40th year now appear strained as a result of both incidents.

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