KOTA KINABALU - Police are puzzled by the reluctance of the families of the two Malaysians kidnapped in Sandakan on May 14 to report calls for ransom from the Abu Sayyaf gunmen holding them.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman confirmed that the families had received calls from both the gunmen and the captives Thien Nyuk Fun and Bernard Then Ted Fen over the past 72 hours.
"I do not know why they have not reported it," he said, adding that the gunmen had not threatened the families against informing the police.
Both families have maintained a low profile as efforts were underway to seek intermediaries to help negotiate the speedy release of Thien, manager of Ocean King Seafood Restaurant, the place from where the kidnappers also took Then, a Sarawakian electrical engineer who happened to be dining there.
Thien's family told friends they were concerned over her health as she was on hypertension medication.
Filipino sources told The Star on Saturday that Thien and Then who were grabbed by the notorious Muktadil brothers - Mindas and Kadafi - had been taken to Jolo island in southern Philippines.
They were reportedly disoriented and scared but otherwise unharmed under the watch of a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen led by either Indang Susukan @ Jihad or sub commander Alhabsi Misaya.
Yesterday, Jalaluddin confirmed that Thien and Then were safe, and were now at an island in southern Philippines, but stopped short of disclosing the exact island.
He said police would continue to work with the families to help secure the release of the hostages while stepping up operations to track down the kidnappers.
"We had information of a possible kidnapping in Sandakan but it was not specific," he said.
Jalaluddin said the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) led by Deputy Comm Rashid Harun had been conducting operations at various hot spots and areas known to harbour illegal immigrants in Sabah's east coast, but regretted that the latest abduction occurred at an "unanticipated" area.
According to Jalaluddin, the police and Esscom were reviewing their strategies to ensure the incident would not recur, and the ongoing 7pm to 5am daily curfew in the sea off the six east coast districts had been extended until June 2.