SANDAKAN - Thien Yoke Sang, the chef at Pasir Putih Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, said he cautiously refrained from doing anything when he saw the militants taking away his sister Yoke Fun and customer Bernard Chen Ted Fen, for fear his reckless move would incite the armed abductors into a shooting spree.
When approached by Sin Chew Daily, Thien said it was utter chaos when the militants stormed the restaurant and kidnapped his sister, adding that he heard people shouting "Run! Run!"
"When I looked out from the kitchen, I saw a well-built man armed with an M16 with rows of bullets hanging from his body. I was too terrified to come out to save my sister and the customer."
Thien said his sister would have dinner with her two sons and uncle Chung Yan Tsim around seven every evening. However, since the restaurant was a bit busy last night, the uncle had to help out at the kitchen, while her two sons were back to the cashier counter after dinner, leaving Yoke Fun sitting alone at the first table nearest to the floating fish farm from where the armed abductors had approached.
He hoped his sister and the abducted customer would eventually return unharmed.
Having 15 years of experience as a chef, Thien said the abductors appeared to be well familiar with the restaurant environment, and he did not rule out the possibility of insider job. The police took the statements of all the employees last night, and a Filipino kitchen help who had started work only a few days ago was detained by the police.
Thien said five handsets belonging to customers were left on the tables since the whole thing took place so suddenly. The owners are urged to collect their phones from the restaurant.
The town of Sandakan boasts a very long coastline, and there are many estuaries and villages dotting the areas around Pasir Putih.
Yoke Fun is the fifth sibling in a family of ten. She is seen as a very caring lady boss who treats all her staff courteously.
Another cook told Sin Chew Daily he was working busily at the kitchen when the incident took place. He was frightened after hearing people screaming and seeing his lady boss snatched away by the armed kidnappers.