Family of murdered Sarawakian hostage donate to children in Manila slum

Bernard Then's widow. His family has donated the money given by Sarawak chief minister's wife to poor children living near a cemetery in Manila. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 16, 2016.

Bernard Then’s widow. His family has donated the money given by Sarawak chief minister’s wife to poor children living near a cemetery in Manila. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 16, 2016.

By Desmond Davidson

Even in grief, the family of murdered kidnap victim Bernard Then showed magnanimity by giving the donation they received from the wife of Sarawak chief minister to children living in a slum near where his remains were cremated yesterday in Manila.

State Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister, Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, who accompanied Then’s family for the cremation, today said the family was thankful for Puan Sri Jamilah Anu’s donation, but they felt the poor children who were seen playing barefoot and in dirty rags around the cemetery, needed the money more.

The money would be distributed by the Catholic head priest of Rizal Funeral House in Pasay City.

The 39 year-old Then was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants at a seafood restaurant in Sandakan, Sabah on May 14 last year. The militants also abducted the restaurant’s manager Thien Nyuk Fun.

Thien was released on November 8 reportedly after a ransom was paid, but Then was beheaded on November 17 after his family failed to raise the ransom money.

The beheading was carried out at a remote location on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines after he spent six months in captivity.

His ashes are expected to arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) tonight.

Fatimah said the ashes would not be brought back to his hometown of Kuching but would be interred in Kuala Lumpur where his family resided.

She also said the family had planned to hold a special funeral service in the city tomorrow.

The cremation was attended by Then’s widow, parents, two brothers and a Sarawak delegation that included Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the special administrative officer to the chief minister.

Tan Sri Adenan Satem, in a Facebook posting yesterday, said he was grateful there was closure to the tragic episode.

“We share with the family members the anxiety, pain and sorrow that they have had to go through during this whole episode.

“We have vainly lost one life to this despicable and heinous act of people who have no regard for the dignity and honour of human life.

“The state government was also glad to be able to help the family members to fly to Manila and bring the remains home to Malaysia tomorrow,” he wrote.  – The Malaysian Insider

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