KUCHING: Asean member countries must work together to counter the kidnapping threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, says a Sarawak senior minister.
Noting that the recent Asean summit had discussed the issue of human trafficking in the region, Tan Sri James Masing said the “human trading” by Abu Sayyaf was a worse problem which needed to be countered.
“Abu Sayyaf seems to go on a rampage in kidnapping from Sabah shores – Taiwanese, Filipinos, Malaysians, you name it. In short, it’s not a Philippine or Malaysian problem but an Asian problem,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Masing said ransom money in the millions had made kidnapping a lucrative business, with the result that humans were “taken to be sold as goods in the market”.
He added that kidnappings had nothing to do with politics or religion but was purely economic.
“It’s human lives for money,” he said.
He said the intrusion into Sabah followed by the beheading of a Malaysian hostage recently showed that the militant group had become bolder.
“There is a need for the Asean community to handle this menace before it becomes too big.“This needs commitment and concerted efforts by all Asean countries. Let’s learn from the European Union on how they get together to handle the Syria problem,” he added.