NST rapped for ransom report on kidnapped cop

Sharifah Erna Berson, 22, cradling her four-months old son Muhamad Hisyam Izzuddin, mother-in law Juna Gumbur, 54, (left) waiting for their loved ones Cons. Zakiah Aleip who was kidnapped during the incident of eight gunmen who shot dead his colleague Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan at the Mabul Water Bungalow Resort in Semporna.

KUALA LUMPUR - Filipino gunmen holding a 26-year-old Malaysian marine policeman hostage has asked for a ransom of "10 million", one day after capturing him, New Straits Times (NST) daily reported yesterday.

The caller did not specify the currency when making a brief call to the police last Sunday, the newspaper said.

The report on the ransom demand for kidnapped cop Zakiah Aleip yesterday made Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar angry, as it could put "my man in danger", he told a media briefing.

"NST is putting my man in danger. I hope there are no others that are following the paper," he said.

"I requested that there be no reports on ransom, but (the New) Straits Times picked up rumours and turned it into news. Don't be like that," Tan Sri Khalid was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini online news.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at a separate function confirmed there was a ransom demand for Mr Zakiah, but said the government is ignoring it.

Constable Zakiah was kidnapped while his colleague Corporal Rajah Jamuan, 32, was shot dead last Saturday evening at their security post when about eight gunmen raided a resort located off Mabul island in eastern Sabah.

The gunmen are believed to be militants from the Abu Sayyaf group which has carried out several kidnappings in the last few months of tourists and workers in the area, with the victims often believed to have been released only after ransom was paid.

Meanwhile, Malaysian police said yesterday that several steps are being taken to thwart new kidnap attempts in eastern Sabah, a long stretch of beach that faces southern Philippines.

The measures include imposing night-time curfew soon, deploying 680 more security personnel in the area, and imposing designated sea routes for vessels to follow to allow for easier monitoring.

Police chief Khalid said the government is carrying out a census in the floating villages prevalent in eastern Sabah, with a view of relocating Malaysian citizens who live on them to villages onshore, Malaysiakini reported.

He called these floating villages - rows of houses built on stilts out at sea - "the dens of criminals".

"It will take some time as the relocation area will need to be ascertained. In fact, we have already started a census, and those who are non-citizens will be deported. The relocation is only for citizens," he said.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had in his blog on Wednesday urged the relocation of all floating villagers, as these villages could be used to smuggle weapons and terrorists into Malaysia.

This article was first published on July 18, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.