Malaysiakini News

Set up RCI on hostage crisis management, say NGOs

Published:  |  Modified:

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) has called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the effectiveness of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) and hostage crisis management in Sabah.

This is following media spotlight on the RM12 million raised to secure the release of the four former Abu Sayyaf hostages.

"We, the following organisations, call for the establishment of a RCI to probe the effectiveness of Esszone and hostage crisis management in Sabah, following the latest mishandling of the 'Sibu 4' hostage crisis which involves public and family contribution of RM12 million," the coalition of NGOs said in a statement.

GBM said the RCI was necessary to improve marine security and handling of hostage crises in Sabah.

The coalition added that Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar should be suspended pending the RCI into the matter.

It said the authorities' conflicting statements on the RM12 million ransom money only fuelled suspicions that there was an attempt to hide the truth from the public.

Zahid claimed the money had been channelled to some Islamic charities in the Philippines.

But inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said the police had nothing to do with the money, and that they would not investigate the matter.

However, the former hostages' kin insist that they had given the money to Special Branch police officers.

"The contradictory statements have unfortunately raised questions of accountability and integrity not only on the authorities, but earlier also the families which have suffered emotionally because of the ordeal itself.

"One of the families even sold their two houses in order to save the lives of their loved ones," said the coalition.

GBM said Zahid's claim that the money had been given away was unacceptable since the government had no right to do this.

Chanelling the money to another group also legitimised the kidnapping of civilians by Abu Sayyaf, it said.

The four Sarawakian hostages were released on June 8 following their kidnap by Abu Sayyaf militants near Pulau Ligitan, Semporna, Sabah on April 1.

The four were brothers Wong Teck Kang, 31, and Wong Teck Chii, 29, their cousin, Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21, and tugboat crew member Wong Hung Sing, 34.

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