Friday, February 28

Freed fisherman traumatised to venture out to the sea

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LAHAD DATU: Ruslan Sarapin, 39, the owner of the fishing trawler who was freed after being abducted by the Kidnap For Ransom (KFR) group was still traumatised and had lost his passion for the sea to catch fish.

Ruslan, who was also known as Haji Nasir among the fishermen in this area, was abducted by the group in the waters off Semporna near Gaya island on Sept 27.

Six gunmen armed with M14 and M16 rifles on a speedboat had stormed the fishing trawler belonging to Ruslan with 26 crew members on board.

Only Ruslan was kidnapped, while the other crew members were not harmed. He was then taken to Sitangkai Island in the Philippines and released three days later on Oct 1.

He recounted the incident after receiving a visit from the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim at his house here yesterday.

Ruslan said he no longer had the spirit to venture out to sea for fishing like he used to for fear of becoming a victim for the second time.

He said while in custody on the island he was guarded by armed men and treated harshly but was thankful that he was not harmed in any way.

Meanwhile, Irmohizam said he was concerned that such an incident could occur in the future and that situation indeed would tarnish Malaysia’s image internationally.

“I am compelled to come to this area because when I was in Myanmar recently for the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, I was questioned on this subject by the international media,” said Irmohizam adding that this was his second visit to eastern Sabah to see issues faced by the fishermen in the area and try to find solutions.