An online petition has been set up to help free the two Malaysian hostages held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Jolo for over 140 days now.
ON the eve of Malaysia Day, a group of Malaysians got together at a restaurant in Petaling Jaya to organise a social media campaign to bring home the two Malaysians being held hostage in Jolo Island, southern Philippines.
The health of 50-year-old Sabahan Thien Nyuk Fun and 39-year-old Sarawakian Bernard Then Ted Fen is said to be deteriorating and the group, called “Bring Our Malaysian Hostages Home”, was hopeful its campaign would highlight the hostages’ ordeal and that help would come fast to get them free.
Thien, a restaurant manager, has hypertension and suffers from other medical conditions too, while Then is pre-diabetic.
Intelligence reports from Jolo indicate Thien is finding it hard to cope and her medical condition is deteriorating rapidly while Then needs his medication.
On May 14 this year, Then, who was on holiday in Sabah with his 40-year-old wife Chan Wai See, went for dinner at the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant, a seaside restaurant a few kilometres from Sandakan town.
While they were eating, gunmen linked to Abu Sayyaf stormed the restaurant at 7.40pm. Four gunmen – one armed with an automatic rifle with bullets strapped to his chest – burst into the restaurant, prompting the patrons and workers to flee.
In the raid lasting less than a minute, the gunmen abducted Then and restaurant manager Thien. They were taken 333km east of Sandakan to Jolo by the gunmen. And then the Abu Sayyaf captors demanded ransom.
I’ve met the family members of the two hostages several times and they’ve told me it is doom and gloom for them.
“The family is in the darkest moment of their life,” said a relative of Then’s who wanted to remain anonymous.
“This is a life-changing situation. The family is not the same any more. They have not seen their loved one home for so many days. But they have not given up hope that Bernard will return home.
“The worst part for the family members is to see their parents suffer, especially when they see them crying. This is tough for them. Nobody should endure this.
“Imagine, they are like zombies. They have to get on with their day-to-day life with this in mind. They are constantly haunted by the good memories of him which remind them that he is still a captive.
“They are feeling helpless and hopeless. The agony for the family is they feel they cannot do anything to bring Bernard home safely. They wish they could go to Jolo and rescue him.”
But the Then family members do count their blessings. They are thankful that friends, especially those with whom they had lost contact, have offered to help in any way.
Their anxiety increased on Aug 22 when Chan received a call from the captors in Jolo who said they would behead her husband if ransom was not paid.
It was on the 124th day of Thien’s and Then’s ordeal that the “Bring Our Malaysian Hostages Home” group of social media practitioners got together to start a Facebook and online petition to highlight the plight of the two hostages’ families.
The group hopes to get 100,000 signatures for the petition and then hand it to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with the hope that his personal intervention would expedite the process of securing freedom for the two hostages.
About 43 hours after the campaign started, it garnered 3,876 signatures. That’s about one signature every 40 seconds.
It is heart-warming to read the 1,447 comments in ipetitions.com.
Joyce Majanil: “Praying for their safe return soon.”
Ismail Saruji: “Leave no one behind.”
Wai Loon: “My regards to the family members. Please stay strong. Malaysians have never forgotten the two who are victims. May our love bring back them to you as soon as possible.”
Lau Sie Huong: “PM, as a Malaysian gift on a special Malaysia Day, please do all you can and united as we stand, bring back the two hostages soonest. I know you and all Malaysians care for the two hostages. TQVM, PM.”
Roslan Azman: “Saya sangat berharap agar pihak kerajaan Malaysia dapat mengusahakan sesuatu supaya dapat membawa pulang tawanan dengan selamat. (I really hope the Malaysian authorities will organise something so that the hostages will come back safely.)”
David Bong: “Dear Mr Prime Minister of Malaysia. Please help to negotiate for the peaceful release and return of fellow citizens to their home country and family.”
Shane Ferdinand: “To our PM, please help to get our Malaysian hostages released. Thank you in advance.”
Wong Wee Ping: “Free our Malaysian Hostages. Every Malaysian counts.”
The group prays that Malaysians will support this plea for help and sign the petition. Bring our Malaysian hostages home.
You can sign the petition here.
- The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.
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