Captors won't harm the two, says former hostage

Kua: ‘Escaping is a far-fetched idea as you are in a strange land’.

SEMPORNA - The abductors of the two women from the Singamata Reef Resort here are likely to treat their captives well. So says former Abu Sayyaf hostage Kua Yu Loong.

He said the hostages were considered "commodities" and the captors wanted to ensure no harm came to them. All they want is ransom money.

Kua, who was among 15 men and five women carried away from Sipadan by gunmen from the Philippines separatist group 14 years ago, said the abductors always ensured their captives were not harmed.

Kua, 38, was a cook at a resort in Sipadan when the gunmen struck on April 23, 2000. The hostages were all freed on Aug 20 in the same year, after spending six months in the jungles of the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Recalling his abduction, Kua said the gunmen transported him and the other captives in two jongkongs or long boats.

"We were taken from Sipadan at about 8pm on April 23 and reached what I eventually came to know as Jolo island at about 7pm the following day," he added.

He said the gunmen avoided the open sea to evade security forces and travelled from island to island so as not be detected.

"They gave us simple food, such as sardines or salt fish and rice. Four of us had to share a small can of sardines," he said, when met at the coffeeshop he opened in this east coast Sabah town about a year after his release.

"Escaping was a far-fetched idea because you are in a strange land and among different people," he said.

"My priority then was staying healthy and alive," added Kua.

He said if Gao could speak English, she would be able to talk to her captors as some of them spoke the language.