KOTA KINABALU: A telephone call has been received on the latest kidnapping of three crew members of a fishing boat in Pulau Pom Pom waters off Semporna, said Sabah police commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun.
However, he declined to reveal details of the call.
“Yes, there has been a telephone call. But let the police investigate its authenticity first, whether it is really from the kidnappers or people trying to take advantage (of the incident),” he told reporters after attending the state-level Malaysia Day celebrations here today.
Abdul Rashid also said the victims were believed to be safe and that investigations into their kidnapping were ongoing.
The three crew members were identified as Loloi Alpin, 30; Sami, in his 30s; and Masurin, in his 50s; all Filipinos but having Malaysian IMM13 immigration documents and listed in a census by the Special Task Force on illegal immigrants in Sabah.
They were abducted by seven men armed with firearms while fishing together with 13 other crew members in the waters at about 10.40pm on Sept 10.
Abdul Rashid also regretted that most of the fishing boats operating in Sabah waters, especially in the east coast of the state, had not installed the Automated Tracking System (AIS), to enable them to communicate with the authorities.
“Like this kidnapping incident, the boat had no communications system like the AIS.
“… we urge fishermen to install the AIS and cooperate with security forces in protecting the interests and security of both parties,” he said.
He said police were currently reviewing granting permits to fishermen to fish in national waters during curfew periods.
Abdul Rashid said the review was not to prohibit fishing activities during the curfew but to find a suitable approach whereby fishermen can cooperate and work with security forces.
He said the curfew in the waters of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) was still effective, but required the cooperation of the public to ensure safety was maintained.
He also did not rule out the possibility that the kidnappers were hiding in the ESSZone, especially in the islands near southern Philippines.
In conjunction with Hari Malaysia, Abdul Rashid said he hoped that people continue to work together with the authorities to maintain security and peace in the country.