by V Shuman
QUICK TAKE: Malaysia has another first, and it is a dubious honour we can definitely do without.
We may have a local hostage beheaded by Sulu militants, depending on which authority and news report you wish to believe in.
Reports are pouring in about Bernard Then Ted Fen, a Sarawakian, who was plucked from a seafood restaurant in Sandakan last year, killed by his captors after ransom negotiations fell through.
According to a report in The Star, a severed head, believed to be that of Then’s, was found placed in a sack outside a municipal council building in Jolo Island on Tuesday evening.
Jolo police chief Major Junpikar Sitin told the daily that a street sweeper found the head in the sack with Then’s name, and called the authorities.
“We have turned over the head to the military task force for preservation and DNA tests,” Sitin told the daily.
A second hostage who was kidnapped together with Then – Thien Nyuk Fun, was freed on Nov 9.
Intelligence reports from Jolo indicated that Then was executed by the Abu Sayyaf faction following a week-long deadline given to meet the demand for higher ransom.
It also came after the Philippines military intensified its operations against militants in the Indanan area.
Filipino authorities believe Then’s body is buried in the vicinity of the place he was beheaded.
Meanwhile, it is indeed disappointing that Malaysian authorities seem to be still clueless about the fate of Then.
Following news reports of his beheading, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted on Tuesday evening that “the Philippines authorities were involved in a battle with the kidnappers in Jolo island earlier today. PDRM have yet to ascertain the fate of Bernard, the Malaysian hostage.”
A second tweet went “PDRM is trying to get confirmation from the Southern Philippines. We pray for Bernard’s safety.”
It boggles the mind to think how a daily can have better contacts with the police in a neighbouring country, than our own police force.
How is it possible that The Star, for example, is quoting more than one Filipino enforcement chief talking about the execution, while even our top cop, seems to be in the dark?
What are the chances of PDRM not liaising with their Filipino counterparts in handling the matter?
In this time and age, all it takes is a single phone call to find out what happened. If an authoritative figure like Major Sitin is just a phone call away for a journalist from The Star, why can’t anyone from PDRM do the same?
Imagine the agony faced by Then’s family – news reports continue to pour in about Bernard’s execution, but the police, who should rightfully be the ones giving the bad news, seem to be clueless.
How much longer would Then’s grieving family have to suffer over his fate?
If indeed the news reports are true, it is only appropriate for all of us to extend our deepest sympathy to Then’s family.
Then’s abduction, let alone his execution, should not have happened.
Now that it has, we all know that it is a direct result of lax of security in Sabah waters, and the impotence of Esscom.
In that, Putrajaya has to bear responsibility for the brutal execution of a Malaysian in the hands of foreign terrorists because it has failed miserably in protecting its citizens against a foreign threat. – The Ant Daily