KOTA KINABALU, Nov 9 — No ransom was paid to secure the release of the Malaysian hostage Thien Nyuk Fun from her Filipino abductors, said Sabah police commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman.
The state’s most senior police official dismissed a news report that a large ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in exchange for the release of Thien, a 50-year-old restaurant manager.
“As far as I know, no ransom was paid. They are just rumours,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail Online.
According to a report in The Straits Times’ news portal, a ransom of some 30 million pesos (RM7.8 million) was paid for the release of Thien.
Jalaluddin said that Thien arrived in her hometown of Sandakan last night at 10pm after a journey through land and sea from the southern Philippines island of Jolo.
“From Jolo, she took a six-hour speedboat ride to reach her family here in Sandakan,” he said.
“She is well, but is weak and disoriented from the long journey as well as the emotional repercussions,” added Jalaluddin.
Earlier, it was reported in a news portal that Thien was released at 11pm yesterday and reached Sandakan earlier this morning.
On May 15 this year, Thien and Sarawakian Bernard Then, 39, was abducted from the popular Ocean King restaurant in Sandakan town during peak dinner hours.
Efforts are still ongoing to negotiate the release of Then after discussions hit a deadlock.
The Star Online reported that internal disagreements among the Abu Sayyaf groups were tensing up the final leg of negotiations that lasted over a week.
Meanwhile, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman expressed relief and gratitude for the return of Thien, six months after her capture.
Musa said the release was much awaited and that he was glad her family will see her soon.
“We are relieved that one of the hostages has been released. Am sure their families are anxiously awaiting their return,” he said.
Musa said that Thien’s release is the result of months of negotiations and a coordinated effort among the relevant authorities at many levels to secure their release.
“I wish to thank all of them for working hard to bring the hostage home. In the meantime, I urge the relevant authorities to remain vigilant at all times and keep our borders secure from further intrusion,” he said.