RM12 Million Kidnap Ransom – Was It A Police Corruption Or Terrorism Funding?

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Jun 17 2016
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Ever wonder why Somali pirates were so skinny that they looked more like malnourished African children than real pirates? It’s all about “Location, Location, Location”. They were targeting international cargo ships in the vast Indian Ocean. Their operation cost was high but their returns – ransom – rarely exceed US$1 million. It was hard work not worth the risks.


On the contrary, Philippines pirates are luckier because not only they were very well-fed but also very rich. They don’t chase huge cargo ships for hours only to return home empty-handed because their boats were outrun, engines overheat or simply ran out of fuel in the middle of ocean. They only target those travelling between the narrow sea separating Sabah and the Philippines.

Somali Pirates – Malnourished Like African Children

Unlike Somali pirates, Philippines pirates’ – the Moro and Abu Sayyaf – boat travel are within a short distance between their base and their target location. That’s because the distance between the Philippine Islands and the Malaysian mainland Sabah are short – only 20 nautical miles at the shortest point. That was how they invaded Sabah in 2013 while the Malaysian government was clueless about it.


In fact, Sabah is treated like an ATM (automated teller machine) to the Moro and Abu Sayyaf pirates, who doubles as Islamist militant terror group when they’re not out kidnapping. Their operation cost is very low and their ransoms are normally in the region of millions of US dollars – minimum. Besides terrorising and kidnapping, they’re very skilful in negotiating.

Philippines Abu Sayyaf Pirates and Terrorists

They would normally ask for sky high amount of ransom, so that the victims could haggle as if they were at night market. At the end of the day, the Philippines pirates would get millions of dollars, not thousands as what those Somali pirates get. Kidnapping is a roaring business because both the Government of Malaysia and Philippines allow them – by closing one eye.


It’s a public knowledge that Malaysia is a breeding ground for terrorists especially in the southern Thailand and Sabah. Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Sayyaf, Tanzim Al-Qaeda, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia and Darul Islam Sabah are some of the known terror groups in Malaysia. Kidnapping is where they get funding for their OPEX (operating expenditure).

Terror Groups in South East Asia - ISIS ISIL Islamic State

In normal circumstances, those abducted from Sabah would be released after ransoms were paid. That’s the good part of Moro and Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. They don’t kill after getting their money. They’ve their reputation to uphold because they treat kidnapping as long-term business. If they start killing even after got their money, no victims will pay anymore.


On April 1, 2016, four Malaysian sailors – brothers Wong Teck Kangsar, 31 and Teck Chii, 29, their cousin Jung Hien and sailor Wong Hung Sin, 34 – were kidnapped from a commercial barge, MV Massive 6, in the waters off Pulau Ligitan while returning to Tawau, Sabah after sending a cargo of wood to Manila. Abu Sayyaf had demanded for a ransom of RM30 million initially.

Sarawakians Kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf - Johnny Lau, Wong Hung Sing, Wong Teck Chii & Mr Wong Teck Kang
Following negotiations the amount was lowered by a third. For some unknown reason, the Malaysian government didn’t pay the ransom, as they normally would, although it was done secretly. Perhaps Najib administration, who is cash-strapped after his 1MDB scandal, heavy borrowing and lavish spending, thought the Malaysian-Chinese victims were rich enough to settle the ransom on their own.


After more than 2 months in captivity, the four Sarawak sailors were released last week. Of the total sum, RM9 million was donated by individuals (including donors from China, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Solomon Islands), RM1 million came from the mortgage of victims’ families two houses and the remaining RM2 million from the shipping company that the four men worked for.

Sarawakians Kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf - Other Kidnappings

However, all hell breaks loose when Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the release of the sailors was achieved through negotiations between the kidnappers and a joint Malaysia-Philippines team. “We do not pay ransom,” – Khalid had stressed at a press conference. But if no money was paid, where is the RM12 million raised?


The uncle of one of the hostages, Lau Cheng Kiong, however, confirmed to the press that they had paid out RM12 million to Special Branch officers in Sandakan to be used as ransom for the release of the four kidnap victims. Furious, the public who did not believe that no ransom was paid has also questioned the whereabouts of the money.

Ahmad Zahidi Hamidi - Donated RM12 Million Ransom Money To Somebody in Philippines

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs in charge of police force, dropped an unbelievable bombshell. He insisted that no ransom was paid, but that RM12 million (US$2.92 million; £2 million) raised by families of the victims and from the public was contributed to “certain organisations” in the Philippines.


“The money raised was from public donation and asset sales, and I can confirm that it was channelled not as ransom, but to a body in the Philippines which assists in an Islamic struggle. The body has no links to terrorists or criminals.” – Berita Harian Malaysia, the mouthpiece of Najib administration has quoted Zahid Hamidi.

Sarawakians Kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf - Ransom Money Donated To Somebody

If what Mr. Zahid Hamidi said is true, then what appears to be a normal kidnap issue could transform into a scandal. The money raised was from public donation and asset sales so there’s no justification for the deputy prime minister, and the police under his control, making a unilateral decision giving away RM12 million as if it was some sort of donation to a third organization.


And since Zahid claims this organization is not affiliated with any terrorist and illegal groups, hence has no links whatsoever with the Abu Sayyaf terror group, why should they be rewarded with RM12 million to begin with? It was like saying Obama Foundation has no links to ISIS but the Malaysian police under Mr. Zahid decided to give RM12 million of ransom money to the foundation anyway.

IGP Khalid Abu Bakar Thinking of Twitter - ISIS Attacks

No rocket science here. The real conspiracy theories could easily be found from one of many Hollywood white collar criminal TV series. Here’re 3 possibilities:


{ 1 } IGP Khalid Abu Bakar spoke the truth – no money was paid – because Abu Sayyaf was promised with something else by Malaysian government in return. However, some powerful but corrupt policemen (and perhaps politicians) couldn’t resist the temptation and took the money.

{ 2 }  RM12 million was paid but Abu Sayyaf didn’t get all the money because a certain percentage was paid as “commission” or “professional services” to certain Malaysian authorities, who have acted as “middle man”. And police chief Khalid Abu Bakar somehow was kept in the dark, or pretended to be in the dark.

{ 3 }  RM12 million was fully paid to Abu Sayyaf but in order to look good and macho, IGP Abu Bakar had denied that ransom was paid. But the public have gone bonkers about the money. So, Zahid creates a fairytale about donating the money to some mysterious bodies in the Philippines.

Mahathir Mohamad - Zahid Hamidi Declared in 1997 Had RM230 Million

If former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad isn’t senile, he told a press conference this week how Mr. Zahid Hamidi once declared that he had RM230 million (US$56 million; £39 million) when he (Zahid Hamidi) was UMNO Youth Chief. Mr. Zahid was elected UMNO Youth Chief in 1996 so RM230 million was a lot of money back then.


Like it or not, it’s hard to believe Zahid Hamidi and this sounds like a police corruption scandal, or terrorism funding. The storylines, amusingly, have some similarities to 1MDB scandal. Four kidnapped sailors were released. The police chief denied about paying ransom but the ransom money goes missing. The police keep quiet and a minister in charge of the police cooks up a story about donation (*grin*).


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