LAHAD DATU - Fresh off a piracy case on Sunday, Sabah was shaken by the kidnapping of another Chinese national from an island nearby.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman has since announced that a curfew and travels restrictions would be imposed in high risk areas off the coast of Sabah.
The kidnapping of 34-year-old fish farm manager Yang Zai Lin from Guangzhou saw five Filipino gunmen in a brief shootout with the pursuing Malaysian security forces before they fled to Sibutu Island in the southern Philippines.
The kidnapping came about 28 hours after four pirates armed with M16 rifles attacked four fishermen and robbed them of their outboard engines late on Sunday at Tanjung Labian, close to Kampung Tanduo that was intruded by Sulu gunmen in February last year.
The 10-minute raid at 2.45am on Tuesday at Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd fish farm on Pulau Baik, close to the shores of Silam, about 30km south of Lahad Datu, has shocked Sabahans who are now questioning the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
The kidnappers, also armed with M16 rifles, had paddled their 40HP white boat to the fish farm, avoiding the security guard by moving towards a second jetty on the other side of the farm.
Sources said that two of the masked men headed straight to the room of a female cook and demanded to know the whereabouts of the Hong Kong-based owner of the fish farm.
On learning that the owner had left just a few hours before their arrival, after a four-day stay at the farm, they grabbed Yang who had come out to check on the commotion outside his room, which was adjacent to the cook's room.
They pulled him to the waiting speedboat where the guard was being held.
However, the gunmen pushed the guard off the boat and sped off towards international waters.
Security forces were immediately notified of the kidnapping.
Due to the proximity of the incident to mainland, police set up roadblocks along the Tawau-Lahad Datu road while at sea they went on red alert under Ops Tutup.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said that at about 6.20am they spotted a 200HP speedboat close to the Malaysian border island of Mataking and as police tried to intercept the gunmen, gunfire was exchanged.
He said the gunmen managed to slip into Alice Reef and flee towards the Philippines' Sibutu island.
He said they believed that the gunmen had switched from their 40HP boat to the higher powered 200HP speedboat to make their escape out of Sabah.
Disclosing they had asked assistance from the Philippines police, Comm Hamza added that they were also checking whether the same group was behind the act of piracy at Tanjung Labian on Sunday.
According to sources, the pirates in the Labian incident had used a black boat and had spoken in local Malay while in Silam they spoke in the Bajau dialect, common among the bajaus on both sides of the Malaysia-Philippines border.
However, they were not ruling out the possibility that they might be linked to each other.
On April 2, gunmen from southern Philippines snatched Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, from the Singamata Reef Resort in the neighbouring Semporna district.
Their whereabouts in southern Philippines remain unknown though the Malaysian authorities say that they are safe.
On Nov 15 last year, a Taiwanese woman Chang An Wei, 8, was kidnapped from the Pom Pom resort while her husband Li Min Hsu, 57, was killed when gunmen raided the Pom Pom resort. She was released a month later after an undisclosed ransom was paid.