PETALING JAYA: Some RM18 million was paid to secure the release of four Malaysian hostages from the clutches of Abu Sayyaf militants in Southern Philippines last week.
According to a source who spoke to China Press, the RM12 mil raised by the families was placed in garbage bags by two policemen from the Sandakan Special Branch, which was then taken to the Sandakan police station, about 6pm on May 24.
However, the kidnappers were not happy with the amount, and a further RM6 mil was raised with the help of corporate figures, said the source.
However, the Sandakan SB and the Hong Leong Bank branch there refused to entertain queries by the daily on the matter.
China Press also spoke to one of the negotiators, who said Abu Sayyaf militants would never released hostages without being paid a ransom.
He explained the gunmen only received cash that had been converted into Philippine peso, and delivered by boat to their stronghold in Jolo island.
Another source the daily spoke to, a Filipino, said the RM18 mil included expenses for travel, accommodation and food, as well as payments to middle-men.
Abu Sayyaf had initially demanded 300 mil pesos (RM30 mil) in ransom, which was then lowered to 180 mil pesos (RM18 mil).
The four – Wong Teck Kang, 31; his brother Teck Chii, 29; their cousin Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21; and colleague Wong Hung Sing, 34; were abducted off the waters of Pulau Ligitan, near Semporna, Sabah, on April 1.
They were released last Wednesday and arrived in Kota Kinabalu early this week, where they had their statements recorded by the police. They are all now back home.