Sunday, June 22, 2014

Malaysia: Sabah Abductions a Greater Problem than Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

According to http://www.themalaymailonline.com, the continuing series of abductions off of Sabah’s east coast have taken much heavier toll on Malaysia’s tourism industry on contrast to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, the country's tourism minister, said today (June 22).

First of all, for the benefit of our readers, an orientation on Sabah:

Sabah is on of thirteen member states of Malaysia and is its easternmost state. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo and known as the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It shares maritime borders with the Federal Territory of Labuanthe on the west and the Philippines to the north and the northeast. The land border also share with the province of North Kalimantan of Indonesia to the south. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton. 

Specifically, the tourism minister told Parliament that kidnappings in Sabah has borne the brunt of flight cancellations after a Chinese tourist and Filipina resort worker were both taken hostage by armed militants from a resort off Semporna.

Nazri said a total of 76 direct flights from Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu were cancelled following the incident, including ten Malaysia Airlines flights out of Shanghai, 22 China Southern Airlines flights out of Shenzen and 44 Spring Airlines chartered flights out of Shanghai. 

COMMENT: The abductions have also prompted the US, UK and Germany to release travel warnings to their citizens against travel to the north Borneo state.

Nazri, who was responding to a supplementary question from PKR’s Gombak MP Azmin Ali, said his ministry and Sabah’s tourism authority are working hard to assure Chinese tourists and the US, UK and German governments that Sabah is safe.

The above being said, the abductions are continuing with no indication of abatement, as the Malaysian government, which is hardly credible after its lack of transparency re: Flight MH370.

In essence, the Malaysians have hardly made tourists feel "soft and fuzzy" that they WON'T be kidnapped. Hence, the onus is on the government to demonstrate through details and facts as to what measures the government is planning to take to neutralize a growing "cottage" industry.

Despite what the Malaysian government has said publicly, lots of kidnappings in Sabah would not be occurring if victims were NOT paying a lucrative ransom.

Nazri noted that even if the kidnapping incidents have been limited only to Sabah’s east coast, the adverse effect on regional abductions extends to the entire state as tourists would not differentiate between the state’s east and west coasts.

With a serious track-record of numerous kidnappings occurring in Sabah, I strongly discourage  all foreigners from traveling to Borneo until such time as the Malaysian government has offered a convincing justification that foreigners are safe from abduction.

Chinese national Gao Hua Yuan, 29, and 40-year-old Filipina resort employee Marcy Dayawan, were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna on April 2. The two were released in late May 2014, with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that no ransom was paid despite a 500 million pesos (US$11,287,200 million) demanded by the abductors.

Having spent a dozen or more years working with organizations that have employees and staff kidnapped, I must honestly state that few kidnap gangs feed their victims "carry-out" for two months and don't pay a substantial ransom, including the risk of constantly having to move the captives to avoid security forces.

After the "shell-game" played by the Malaysian government following the disappearance of Flight MH370, any assurances can only viewed with a "jaundiced eye."

On June 21, a fish farm operator Chan Sai Chiun, 32, and a Filipino worker, only identified as Maslan, were kidnapped during a midnight raid in Kampung Sapang in Kunak, some 60 kilometers from Lahad Datu.

The English-language daily, THE STAR, reported that police have since launched a manhunt for the kidnappers, believed to be Filipino gunmen.

In early May, 34-year-old Chinese businessman Zailin Yang was taken by five unidentified gunmen from a fish farm near a coastal town at Pulau Baik, Lahad Datu. His fate remains unknown.

In November 2013, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his wife kidnapped by Filipino gunmen who raided a resort in Pom Pom Island off Semporna. Lim Min Hsu, 57, was found dead with two gunshot wounds while his wife, Chang An Wei, 58, was taken hostage. She was released a month later.

Security measure failed to prevent gunmen from slipping into another Sabah resort near Semporna where they killed a Taiwanese tourist and abducted his wife late last year (2013). She was later released, although it is unknown as to whether a ransom was paid. I suspect that they were after killing her husband.
KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The recent spate of abductions off Sabah’s east coast have taken a heavier toll on Malaysia’s tourism industry compared to the disappearance of Flight MH370, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.
The tourism minister told Parliament that Sabah has borne the brunt of flight cancellations after a Chinese tourist and Filipina worker were both taken hostage by armed militants from a resort off Semporna.
He said a total of 76 direct flights from Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu were cancelled following the incident, including 10 Malaysia Airlines flights out of Shanghai, 22 China Southern Airlines flights out of Shenzen and 44 Spring Airlines chartered flights out of Shanghai.
The kidnapping has also placed Sabah on the high risk list of the US, United Kingdom and Germany — all of which have issued travel advisories against visiting the north Borneo state, Nazri added.
“I agree that the impact of what has happened in Sabah is worse compared to MH370,” he said during question time.
Nazri, who was responding to a supplementary question from PKR’s Gombak MP Azmin Ali, said his ministry and Sabah’s tourism authority are working hard to assure Chinese tourists and the US, UK and German governments that Sabah is safe.
He stressed, however, that this involves greater effort on the part of the home ministry to ramp up security in Sabah’s east coast.
Nazri noted that even if the kidnapping incidents have been limited only to Sabah’s east coast, the negative effect extends to the entire state as tourists would not differentiate between the state’s east and west coasts.
“What we are doing now is increasing efforts to convince tourists from China that Sabah is safe, but this is beyond my ministry’s ability.
“I believe the Sabah government is working hard to give that assurance, but the home ministry also needs to do more to not only give that assurance but also walk the talk to avoid from this happening again,” Nazri said.
Gao Hua Yuan, 29, and 40-year-old Filipina resort employee Marcy Dayawan, were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna on April 2 by a group of gunmen believed to be Filipino militants on April 2.
They have since been released in late May, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that no ransom was paid despite a 500 million pesos (RM36.4 million) demand by the kidnappers.
Yesterday, fish farm operator Chan Sai Chiun, 32, and a Filipino worker, only identified as Maslan, were kidnapped during a midnight raid in Kampung Sapang in Kunak, some 60 kilometres from Lahad Datu.
English daily The Star reported that police have since launched a manhunt for the kidnappers, believed to be Filipino gunmen.
In early May, 34-year-old Chinese businessman Zailin Yang was taken by five unidentified gunmen from a fish farm near a coastal town at Pulau Baik, Lahad Datu. His fate remains unknown.
The Sabah government had imposed a curfew following the fish farm manager’s abduction.
Last November, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his wife kidnapped by Filipino gunmen who raided a resort in Pom Pom Island off Semporna.
Lim Min Hsu, 57, was found dead with two gunshot wounds while his wife, Chang An Wei, 58, was taken hostage. She was released a month later.
Malaysia’s porous borders in its easternmost state has been frequently breached in recent years.
The government set up the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) following the invasion of Sulu militants in Lahad Datu in February last year.
The unit is responsible to keep tabs on the 1,400km of the eastern coast of Sabah ranging from Kudat to Tawau.
However, the security measure failed to prevent gunmen from slipping into another Sabah resort near Semporna where they killed a Taiwanese tourist kidnapped his wife late last year. The woman has since been freed and returned home.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/sabah-abductions-worse-than-mh370-on-tourism-minister-says#sthash.WGT0EvLM.dpuf
KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The recent spate of abductions off Sabah’s east coast have taken a heavier toll on Malaysia’s tourism industry compared to the disappearance of Flight MH370, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.
The tourism minister told Parliament that Sabah has borne the brunt of flight cancellations after a Chinese tourist and Filipina worker were both taken hostage by armed militants from a resort off Semporna.
He said a total of 76 direct flights from Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu were cancelled following the incident, including 10 Malaysia Airlines flights out of Shanghai, 22 China Southern Airlines flights out of Shenzen and 44 Spring Airlines chartered flights out of Shanghai.
The kidnapping has also placed Sabah on the high risk list of the US, United Kingdom and Germany — all of which have issued travel advisories against visiting the north Borneo state, Nazri added.
“I agree that the impact of what has happened in Sabah is worse compared to MH370,” he said during question time.
Nazri, who was responding to a supplementary question from PKR’s Gombak MP Azmin Ali, said his ministry and Sabah’s tourism authority are working hard to assure Chinese tourists and the US, UK and German governments that Sabah is safe.
He stressed, however, that this involves greater effort on the part of the home ministry to ramp up security in Sabah’s east coast.
Nazri noted that even if the kidnapping incidents have been limited only to Sabah’s east coast, the negative effect extends to the entire state as tourists would not differentiate between the state’s east and west coasts.
“What we are doing now is increasing efforts to convince tourists from China that Sabah is safe, but this is beyond my ministry’s ability.
“I believe the Sabah government is working hard to give that assurance, but the home ministry also needs to do more to not only give that assurance but also walk the talk to avoid from this happening again,” Nazri said.
Gao Hua Yuan, 29, and 40-year-old Filipina resort employee Marcy Dayawan, were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna on April 2 by a group of gunmen believed to be Filipino militants on April 2.
They have since been released in late May, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that no ransom was paid despite a 500 million pesos (RM36.4 million) demand by the kidnappers.
Yesterday, fish farm operator Chan Sai Chiun, 32, and a Filipino worker, only identified as Maslan, were kidnapped during a midnight raid in Kampung Sapang in Kunak, some 60 kilometres from Lahad Datu.
English daily The Star reported that police have since launched a manhunt for the kidnappers, believed to be Filipino gunmen.
In early May, 34-year-old Chinese businessman Zailin Yang was taken by five unidentified gunmen from a fish farm near a coastal town at Pulau Baik, Lahad Datu. His fate remains unknown.
The Sabah government had imposed a curfew following the fish farm manager’s abduction.
Last November, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his wife kidnapped by Filipino gunmen who raided a resort in Pom Pom Island off Semporna.
Lim Min Hsu, 57, was found dead with two gunshot wounds while his wife, Chang An Wei, 58, was taken hostage. She was released a month later.
Malaysia’s porous borders in its easternmost state has been frequently breached in recent years.
The government set up the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) following the invasion of Sulu militants in Lahad Datu in February last year.
The unit is responsible to keep tabs on the 1,400km of the eastern coast of Sabah ranging from Kudat to Tawau.
However, the security measure failed to prevent gunmen from slipping into another Sabah resort near Semporna where they killed a Taiwanese tourist kidnapped his wife late last year. The woman has since been freed and returned home.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/sabah-abductions-worse-than-mh370-on-tourism-minister-says#sthash.pfCxMtlH.dpuf