Malaysia: 12 Million Paid to Philippines Was Not Ransom

Haireez Azeem Azizi
Kuala Lumpur
160616-my-ransom-folo-620.jpg Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, center, speaks to reporters, July 28, 2015.

A Malaysian official on Thursday admitted paying 12 million ringgits (U.S. $2.94 million) to unnamed organizations in the Philippines but denied that the money went to militant group Abu Sayyaf in exchange for four hostages, The Star newspaper reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi insisted no ransom payment was made to release four Malaysian sailors – Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Chii Teck, 29, Johnny Lau Kim Hien, 21, and Wong Hung Sing, 34 –who were abducted April 1 and released June 7.

“I can confirm that 12 million ringgits was handed over to the Special Branch given in the form of contributions to certain organizations in the Philippines,” he said.

Zahid declined to reveal what groups received the donations, while reiterating that the money did not go to Abu Sayyaf, which beheaded a Malaysian national in November 2015.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the families of the four ex-hostages said the money was given to Malaysian authorities on May 24 to pay for their release.

Spokesman Lau Cheng Kiong said 9 million ringgit ($2.2 million) was donated by people in Malaysia and abroad; 2 million ringgit ($490,000) was from the shipping company that employed the men; and one million ringgit ($244,000) was raised by mortgaging a family residence.

Family members said they made the announcement because donors asked about what happened to the money.

Philippine media reported on Thursday that four more Malaysian sailors had been abducted in Sulu waters, but Malaysian officials dismissed the report as a mere rumor.

The militant group based in the southern Philippines kidnapped fourteen Indonesian and four Malaysian sailors in the Celebes and Sulu seas in March and April. All have now been released.

The Abu Sayyaf, which claims allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group (IS), recently beheaded two Canadian men after failing to receive ransom payments.


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