IGP contradicts Zahid, claims police never received RM12m ransom
National police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar denied today that the police had received the RM12 million ransom raised to secure the freedom of four Sarawakians abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) claimed that the money was instead handed directly to an unknown “third party” that helped to negotiate the release of the hostages, directly contradicting Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s statement yesterday that the RM12 million had been given to the Special Branch.
“I am denying that the Special Branch had received the money,” Khalid told reporters here.
“I don’t know…I do not want to know,” he added, when asked if the police are aware as to who the recipients of the money are.
Zahid, who oversees the police force, said yesterday that the RM12 million ransom collected from the Malaysian public and from the hostages’ family’s selling of assets was paid to unidentified Filipino welfare groups, and not to the militants who abducted the Sarawakians.
Zahid, who is deputy prime minister too, also said that the RM12 million had been “given to the PDRM Special Branch”, using the initials for the Royal Malaysia Police, who then purportedly channelled the money to certain bodies in the Philippines.
Today, Khalid said what the police did was only to escort the family to Zamboanga City to meet the so-called third party upon the request of the family members of the abducted.
He claimed the family made the request after they were approached by various welfare and Islamic NGOs which offered them help to secure the release of the four.
“That is what the DPM meant when he said the money was given to some welfare groups because these are the third party that made the offer to help secure their release,” Khalid said.
When asked by Malay Mail Online to state if this meant the money was indeed for ransom, only that it was given through a third party, Khalid refused to answer.
“I don’t know. That is what they say”.
Khalid also did not explain what was the government’s official position in the matter when it knew that the family was prepared to meet the third party and hand over the cash.
He only said the police only concurred with the request for assistance as “security provider” due to concerns over how desperate the family members were in wanting to see their loved ones free.
“They wanted to meet the people they contacted there so we…well you know, they are in a desperate situation so it was only natural that we gave assistance,” said Khalid.
He also maintained that police officers were told not to interfere with the negotiations.
“So all this assumptions and allegation that we did pay the ransom is not true…I do not know about the money, where it is channelled to.
“(But) I think the family knows. Where the money went to, who received the money the family knows,” he said.
An uncle to one of the freed hostages revealed yesterday that RM12 million was raised to ransom the four men, and given to the police on May 24.
Brothers Wong Teck Kang, 31, and Teck Chii, 29, their cousin Lau Jung Hien, and an unrelated friend Wong Hung Sing, 34, were kidnapped from a commercial barge, MV Massive 6, in the waters off Pulau Ligitan on April 1 while returning to Tawau, Sabah, after sending a cargo of wood to Manila.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed the four hostages on June 8.