Another Chinese worker kidnapped in Malaysia

Suspected Filipino militants abduct manager of fish farm and escape to sea under cover of darkness on east coast of Sabah state

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 4:20pm

Another Chinese citizen was kidnapped in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah on Borneo early yesterday by suspected Filipino rebels, local officials said.

It is the second kidnapping of a Chinese national in five weeks and comes in the wake of tensions between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing over missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. It is also one of a long line of kidnappings targeting foreigners.

Mohammad Mentek, director-general of security in Sabah, identified the captive as Yang Zailin, 34. Malaysian security forces had exchanged shots with the kidnappers, Mentek said, but the gunmen escaped in a boat with Yang.

“We exchanged gunfire. But the criminals from southern Philippines managed to escape into international waters,” he said in a statement.

However, Yong Teck Lee, former chief minister of Sabah, blasted security forces for their “lapses” and warned the incident should put additional strain on relations with China.

“It is a huge embarrassment to our security machinery as it happened very deep inside Malaysia’s territorial waters,” he said. “The damage [in Malaysia-China ties] will be compounded further.”

The Star, a Chinese-language Malaysian newspaper, quoted unofficial reports as saying that Yang managed a fish farm for a company named Wonderful Terrace in Sabah.

The gunmen holding Yang fled towards the southern Philippines, The Star said without giving further details.

Xinhua quoted the Chinese consulate in Kuching, the largest city in neighbouring Sarawak state, as saying that the abductee was from Guizhou province. He was believed to be kidnapped around 2.45am at Silam, near Lahad Datu, on the east coast of Sabah, it added.

Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib had assured the Chinese consulate that every effort would be made to rescue Yang, Xinhua reported.

On April 2, a 29-year-old tourist from Shanghai, Gao Huayun and a local hotel receptionist were abducted at a holiday resort in Sabah.

Philippine officials said Abu Sayyaf rebels were holding the kidnapped pair in the mainly Muslim Sulu province and were demanding an HK$87 million ransom for Gao.

Sabah is a popular holiday destination with a multicultural population of whom more than 9 per cent are ethnic Chinese.

Areas on the east coast are a short sea journey from the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where Abu Sayyaf is based.