SEMPORNA -Singaporean Tong Hui Leong and his girlfriend Liu Sha Sha's decision to watch the World Cup match between Netherlands and Brazil kept them in their room and out of harm's way.
They were in their room at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort when eight gunmen attacked marine police personnel keeping watch there.
"It was about 11pm when we were awoken to the sound of repeated gunshots. There must have been about 10 shots fired," said the 44-year-old information technology businessman.
"We are glad that we were in our room and out of harm's way," he said, adding that they then heard the sound of many people running on the wooden walkway connecting the individual units built on stilts above the sea.
Tong, however, added that he did not hear of any shouts during the shooting that lasted for several minutes.
He said police personnel subsequently knocked on their door at about midnight to check on them and in the morning they saw bullet casings on the walkway near their room.
Despite the incident, Tong said his girlfriend and he felt secure with the heavy security presence and intended to stay at Mabul until their scheduled departure date on July 15.
"We saw the police boat and policemen when we arrived on July 10 and felt assured. We were shocked the gunmen were daring enough to come here," he said.
The resort workers, when approached, declined to speak to the media but some quietly said that the gunmen had landed at the helipad before walking about 150m to the restaurant where Kpl Rajah Jamuan and Kons Zakiah Aliep, 26, were having their meal.
"We were hoping that the situation would become secure with a heavy presence of our security forces but this is not meant to be," said a resort worker.
Meanwhile, it appeared to be business as usual at the 25-room resort with guests arriving or leaving for their diving trips in the clear waters around the resort or nearby Pulau Sipadan.
"This place is one of the best diving spots in the world," said Tong, who has come to dive at Sabah east coast islands three times since 2006.