PUTRAJAYA - The 15 foreign workers of a resort in Semporna detained without valid working and travel documents recently are also being investigated on suspected involvement in the abduction of two foreign tourists about two weeks ago.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said police feared that the illegal immigrants including five female workers of the resort have acted as "tali barut" (agents or accomplice) for the culprits behind the kidnapping case.
Zahid said authorities would face a more challenging task to maintain security in Semporna, which has been placed under the authority of Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
"We are not suspecting all of the illegal immigrants are tali barut (agents) but we suspect that there are internal elements involved in the kidnapping of the two tourists," he told reporters after the ministry's monthly gathering here today.
Zahid also said the Immigration Department would also haul the employer of the resort for hiring the illegal immigrants.
It was reported that two women, Gao Hua Yuan, 29, from China, and Marcy Dayawan, 40, from the Philippines, were abducted by a group of armed men from a resort close to Semporna town about a week ago.
The Malaysian and Filipino authorities said the two women might have been taken to southern Philippines, either to the provinces of Tawi Tawi, Sulu or Basilan.
It was also reported that Esscom director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek had said that 15 workers of Singamata resort had no travel and work documents.
He said police had picked them up after carrying out an inspection. The workers were detained under the Immigration Act.
On calls by several Member of Parliaments to dissolve Esscom, Zahid said the government has taken every steps to ensure security and safety of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.