KOTA KINABALU - Two Malaysian hostages held by the notorious Abu Sayyaf gunmen are living on borrowed time with every passing day.
The militants' threat to behead Sarawakian Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39, could turn out to be a reality if nothing is done to secure his release soon.
Restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, was abducted together with Then on May 14 and the pirates are now on the run with the military in pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines island of Jolo.
"I feel every day that my husband survives is a day given by God. Their threats to behead my husband is constantly ringing in my head.
"We just don't have the money or means to raise the ransom. It is really important for our Government to work fast towards freeing him and Thien," said his 39-year-old wife Chan Wai See in a telephone interview.
"Several deadlines for ransom to be paid have passed. I fear this time they will carry out their threat. I feel they are becoming angry and irritated with the delays," she said.
Chan is anxiously waiting to receive good news from the Government as to when she will be able to see her husband safely back.
Then was holidaying with his wife when he was abducted along with Thien at the seaside Ocean King Seafood Restaurant just a few kilometres from Sandakan town.
It was the first time the cross border kidnappers had entered mainland Sabah compared to previous kidnappings, which occurred at the isolated east area of the state.
Chan said her husband's aging parents in Kuching were also very worried.
"His mother constantly calls me and she's always crying. But I don't know what to say, I too am at a loss for words,"' she said.
Both victims' families have been receiving calls threatening to behead the hostages if the ransoms, reportedly around 30mil pesos (RM2.8 million or S$920,000) for each, were not paid.
Filipino and Malaysian sources on the ground in Jolo fear that the threat of beheading might become real as the Abu Sayyaf gunmen were now on the constant run with the Philippine military hunting for another kidnap group that grabbed two Canadians and a Norwegian from a resort in Samal Island in Philippines on Sept 21.
Ground sources in Jolo have said that Then was suffering from leg injuries and had to be carried whenever the Abu Sayyaf had to flee to safer ground in the jungle.