WASHINGTON: Malaysians traders travelling from Sabah to southern Philippines should inform the maritime authorities when they are sailing so they can have protection, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said traders were aware that they were passing through several spots which have been zoned as dangerous areas.
“They should inform the security forces, especially the marine police which patrols these high-risk sea routes,” said Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister.
He said the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Royal Malaysian Navy also patrolled these areas.
He said this when commenting on the kidnapping of the four Malaysian crew members of a Malaysian-registered tug boat – MV Massive 6 on Friday when they were on their way back to Tawau after dropping off their cargo in Manila.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who was in the United States to attend the Nuclear Security Summit that ended on Friday, said ransom was believed to be the motive for the kidnapping.
“The trend is clear ... of the 10 crew members on the boat, the Myanmar and Indonesian nationals were released but Malaysians were captured. It is clear that they are trying to get a ransom,” he said.
Based on their modus operandi, however, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the kidnappers would sell their victims to another group and the group would in turn sell them to another at a higher price.
The four Malaysians are Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21.
“We hope families and relatives of the kidnap victims will be patient and our security forces, especially the police, will give top priority to secure their release,” he added.
On a related matter, he said there was a need to review the barter trading between Sabah and southern Philippines which seemed to be benefiting only the latter.
He told Malaysian journalists here on Saturday that the trade also involved smuggling of subsidised Malaysian goods, which meant leakages in national revenue.
“I am not against the policy but looking at the operational aspect, we can see it is favouring only one side,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
He called on government agencies responsible for the bartering system to review it. — Bernama