PETALING JAYA - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has condemned the murder of Bernard Then by the Abu Sayyaf, calling it a "savage and barbaric act".
In a statement on his Facebook page, he said the Government and all Malaysians were shocked and sickened by the incident.
"We call on the authorities to take action against those who have perpetrated this savage and barbaric act, and to ensure that they are brought to justice," Najib posted.
"We will extend our full co-operation to the relevant agencies and authorities in charge of the investigation into this incident.
"Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences are with his family and friends."
Later at the Apec summit in Manila, Najib said he refused to accept the excuse that Then had slowed down the movement of the Abu Sayyaf members escaping from Philippine military operations.
"I have discussed this with President Benigno Aquino and he told me that the beheading of Then was probably carried out due to the army operations, as they were moving from one place to another and Then had slowed them down.
"That is not an excuse we can accept because he should have been released," Najib told the Malaysian media here.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong called for action by the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines against the perpetrators.
He said this was necessary to deliver justice and restore confidence in the security of the nation.
"The murder must not go unpunished and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
"We mourn with Mrs Then and all other next of kin and we know no amount of condolences can provide solace to the family," he added.
Wee, also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said Eastern Sabah Security Command must beef up security in the waters between Sabah and southern Philippines.
He said the Apec summit and upcoming ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur were timely avenues for improving security and intelligence exchange between Malaysia, the Philippines and other ASEAN nations.
He said the countries could collectively move to check and annihilate the Abu Sayyaf or any other terrorist group.
The Dewan Rakyat also expressed condolences and sympathies to Then's family.
Stephen Wong (DAP-Sandakan) asked that a minute's silence be observed but was told by Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee that this was reserved for heads of state or lawmakers.
"However, the Dewan Rakyat would like to record its sympathies to the family," said Kiandee.
The Philippine government has vowed to seek justice for Then.Calling his murder inhumane and unjustifiable, its embassy in Kuala Lumpur condemned the killing.
It said the authorities would pursue the perpetrators until they were brought to justice.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman called on Manila to hunt down and wipe out the Abu Sayyaf militants.