KUALA LUMPUR - Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen have demanded RM36.4mil (S$14 million) for the release of a 29-year-old Chinese woman tourist whom they abducted from a resort off Semporna in Sabah, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He added that there had been no ransom demand for the other hostage, a 40-year-old Filipina resort worker.
"We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500 million pesos, equivalent to RM36.4mil, in ransom.
"We have sent our team, the police and negotiators to discuss with their so-called appointed middle person to negotiate about reducing the ransom," he said after launching the "Message from Prison" segment of TV3's Wanita Hari Ini programme here yesterday.
Gao Huayun and Marcy Dayawan were snatched from Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna on April 2.
One of the kidnappers is believed to be also involved in the abduction of a Taiwanese woman who was snatched on Pom Pom Island on Nov 15 last year after gunmen shot dead her husband.
To a question, Dr Ahmad Zahid denied that the Eastern Sabah Security Command was a failure, saying Esscom was merely carrying out its activities based on the Standard Operating Procedure that had been set for Esszon, the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.
He added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a meeting recently with the members of the National Security Council on tightening security in the area.
"We are going to tighten the activities within Esszon ... (more) equipment and assets are to be deployed within the Esszon area."
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the police, military and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency were working together and collaborating with the Philippine coast guard, navy and military on further tightening security.
Zahid said they would seek the cooperation from the resort operators within the Esszon area and ask them to install high-security cameras.
"We are going to ask them to install high-definition CCTV in all their premises to prevent future activities by intruders or kidnappers," he added.