Kidnapped fisherman returns home after rescue

  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Jul 2003


IPOH: Kidnapped fisherman Loo Thean Choy, who was snatched from the hands of pirates by the Indonesian army, has returned home. 

Loo, 29, dressed in a white shirt and a black pants given to him by some Indonesians, arrived at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport on a Jatayu Airlines flight from Medan at 1.15pm yesterday. 

On hand to welcome him was his brother Thin Pin, 35. 

He immediately obtained a cell phone from his brother to inform his mother of his safe return. 

MUM, I'M HOME: Loo calling his mother to tell her that he had safely arrived.

His mother, Chung Swee Kham, 63, has been pining for his return since he and a Thai crew member were kidnapped by pirates while fishing in the seas about 20 nautical miles from Pulau Jarak on May 28. 

The pirates had also shot Loo’s skipper Tan Choo Hee, 35, during the incident. 

Tan and another crew member were forced into the pirates' boat before the pirates escaped in the Malaysian fishing vessel with Loo and the Thai crew member. 

Tan and the crew member were later rescued by the marine police and warded at the Seri Manjung Hospital. 

“I told my mother not to worry as I would be getting home soon. I could not hear what she was saying on the phone as she was crying and laughing the same time,” he said in an interview. 

Recalling the May 28 ordeal, Loo said that he had been scared when the pirates fired several shots at his boat. 

“We tried to steer our boat away but could not outrun the pirates’ boat.” 

Loo said that he and the Thai crew member were taken to a jungle camp after sailing for about 30 minutes. 

“We were put into a wooden house together with two Myanmar fishermen whom the pirates had abducted earlier. 

“The pirates were fierce and warned us to follow their instructions. They said they would kill us if we tried to escape,” he said. 

Loo said that they were given a mixture of rice and noodle once every three days. 

“Although the portions were small, I did not have the appetite to finish the meals as I was worried about my safety and missed my home,” he said. 

He said the pirates, believed to be Acehnese rebels from the Free Aceh Movement, moved them from camp to camp when pursued by the Indonesian army. 

“We had to run with our captors in the morning and night everyday to hide from the army. 

“It was like a nightmare. We could hear the sound of gunfire and the bombings,” he said. 

Finally, after 25 days under detention, one of the Myanmar fishermen managed to escape to look for help from the Indonesian army. 

“Indonesian soldiers came to rescue us. The pirates had to surrender as those who were guarding us were not armed as they were already facing a shortage of ammunition,” he said. 

He said the second nightmare began when the Indonesian soldiers thought that they were selling arms to the pirates. 

“I was detained by the Indonesian army and had to sleep in a cell without a pillow or a blanket in Lhokseumame in Aceh. I prayed day and night to return to Malaysia,” he said. 

He said that his brother-in-law Tang Lek Kiam had contacted Wisma Putra and the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to confirm his identity. 

Asked whether he would continue to be a fisherman, Loo said: “I don’t know what I want to do now. The experience really haunted me.” 

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