PETALING JAYA - After switching off her handphone for months, the wife of an Abu Sayyaf hostage switched it on again only to receive a chilling call from the gunmen - they are threatening to behead him.
Chan Wai See said she received the threat at about 5pm on Saturday.
Chan managed to speak to her husband Bernard Then Ted Fen who she said sounded worried and scared. It was the first time that she had spoken to her husband since the end of June, when she switched off the phone.
The gunmen told her that they will behead him if the ransom was not paid.
Then also told her that another hostage who was with him, Thien Nyuk Fun, who suffers from high blood pressure, was in a "critical" condition.
"The conversation with my husband lasted less than a minute. Unlike before, he did not sound steady.
"He said he was next in line to be beheaded. The kidnappers then snatched the phone from him and told me they would behead him if the ransom was not paid quickly. The line then got cut off," Chan said, sobbing. She added that the line was very bad and that the person on the other end of the phone spoke in Malay.
"I am terrified for my husband's life. I plead with the government to save him from beheading," she said.
Chan did not have any contact with the kidnappers since June when she turned off her phone on instructions by the police.
She switched it on last Friday after reading media reports about the beheading of a Filipino hostage.
"I was so scared and didn't know what to do," she said.
Thien, 50, and Then, 39, were snatched from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, Sabah on May 14 and taken to Jolo island in southern Philippines by the gunmen.
Thien was the restaurant manager while Then, a Sarawakian, was holidaying in Sandakan.
The duo's families are getting even more worried as there have been recent reports of beheadings and military raids in Jolo.
They also say that they do not have the money to pay the ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
Malaysian intermediaries are believed to be facing problems in negotiations as the families have been unable to raise the ransom.
Yesterday, the families met Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed in Putrajaya to ask for the Government's help to secure their release.
Nur Jazlan said the Government had a policy of not entertaining ransom demands and did not want to set a precedent.
Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded a Filipino village chief on Aug 11 after his family failed to come up with the one million pesos (S$296,000) in ransom.
The village chief was kidnapped on May 4 along with two other coastguard personnel.