Painful wait for families of four kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf

SIBU: The families of the four Malaysians kidnapped off the coast of Sabah by Abu Sayyaf gunmen are praying for their safety as today is the last day for them to pay the RM30mil ransom.

Wong Chi Ming, the father of two brothers kept as hostages, said yesterday that all they could do now was to pray that all four would not be harmed by the gunmen.

The four are brothers Wong Teck Pang, 31, and Wong Teck Chi, 29, their cousin, Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21, and Wong Hung Sing, 34, who is not a relative.

They were kidnapped from their tugboat by armed Filipino gunmen near Pulau Ligitan off Semporna on April 1.

Their captors have threatened to behead them if the RM30mil ransom is not paid by today.

Wong said it has been a painful wait for his son to call back since their last contact.

"Our last conversation was on April 23.

"He told me he would call back in the next two to three days.

"But now it is already six days and we are still waiting for his call," said Wong.

Asked how much they had managed to raise so far from the public, Wong said he was not in the know as the amount has not been counted.

"Many people contributed money to help save the four hostages. We take this opportunity to thank them all," he added.

On the bank account they had opened to receive donations, he said the account was frozen by Bank Negara earlier this week due to an abnormality but it was now unfrozen.

The Sarawak state government had earlier announced that they will help the families to get the four freed from Abu Sayyaf.

Wong Soon Koh, the Barisan Nasional direct candidate for Bawang Assan, had visited Wong's home on Wednesday night and among other things, said he would help by getting his people to apply to the central bank to release the account.