Eastern Sabah is safe says minister after US travel advisory on Malaysia

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Mohamaddin Ketapi speaks to Malay Mail in Putrajaya April 22, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Mohamaddin Ketapi speaks to Malay Mail in Putrajaya April 22, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, April 22 — Tourism, Art, and Culture minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi today said that kidnappings that were reported in East Coast Sabah were mainly motivated by kidnappers’ desire to get ransom money.

In response to a travel advisory issued by the United States earlier this month, where concerns were raised over potential kidnapping or hostage-taking situations in certain areas of eastern Sabah, Mohamaddin said the situation on the ground is peaceful.

“I don’t know if it the travel advisory is smart or not. This country does not have problems. Seems that America, which is far from here, knows better of the problems here,” he quipped.

“For example Tungku, in Lahad Datu, that is my area day and night I can see with my own two eyes that there are no problems. People take walks normally, and some even go fishing.

“If there are kidnappings, this is only when they [the kidnappers] want more money, then they do it. This was only done as one of the ways to get money,” said the Silam MP to the media at his office, here today.

On April 9, the US State Department had placed Malaysia on the “K” list on its travel advisory due to risks of kidnapping or hostage-taking situations in certain areas of eastern Sabah.

Several kidnappings of tourists have been carried out by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, based in the southern Philippine islands, at several Sabah islands bordering the Philippines.

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