KOTA KINABALU- Sabah businessman Yusuf Hamdan, who was among those instrumental in securing the release of 21 Malaysians and foreigners abducted from Pulau Sipadan 14 years ago, has died.
Yusof, 63, who was suffering from cancer died late Wednesday. He was buried in the interior town of Keningau after Zohor prayers.
Yusof used his contacts in Southern Philippines to facilitate communication with the Abu Sayyaf gunmen on Jolo island where they were holding the 21 hostages.
The hostages comprising nine Malaysians, three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finns, two Filipinos and one Lebanese were taken from the diving haven on April 23, 2000. They were released six months later.
Yusof also used his southern Philippine contacts in several other subsequent cross-kidnappings in Sabah's east coast, his friends said.
The businessman was said to have helped to set up negotiations for the release of China tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino hotel worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, who were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna on April 2.
The two women were taken to Jolo island and were released by Abu Sayyaf gunmen on May 30 after 59 days of captivity following negotiations between Malaysian and Philippine security officials with the gunmen.