Hostage cut through chain with a fork

TRAUMATISED: Mr Tung Wee Jie (wearing cap) was seized in Sabah and held captive in a jungle for nine months by gunmen. He escaped before dawn during a tropical downpour.


    Aug 12, 2013

    Hostage cut through chain with a fork

    A MALAYSIAN plantation manager held hostage by Philippine Muslim extremists said he escaped before dawn under the cover of a tropical downpour after almost nine months in abysmal conditions, reports said yesterday.

    Mr Tung Wee Jie, 26, who was seized in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island last November, together with his cousin, was found in the southern Philippine island of Jolo last week and returned to Malaysia last Saturday.

    In his uncle's home in Port Dickson on the Strait of Malacca, Mr Tung told the local media that he escaped in heavy rain from a bamboo hut in a jungle when his abductors, about 20 gunmen, went for pre-dawn prayers.

    He and his cousin, Mr Wei Fei, 34, who suffered from hypertension, had been taken away by the abductors, who demanded ransom from their family, claiming they would take Mr Wei to a hospital.

    On April 17, Mr Tung was separated from his cousin, who had fallen sick. He said he did not know what happened to Mr Wei. Philippine police said last Tuesday that Mr Wei died from an illness.

    Mr Tung told The Star: "The hut was in the middle of nowhere. It was infested with mosquitoes. We each had one of our legs chained to wooden pillars.

    "After my cousin was taken away, I began using a fork to cut through a link in the iron chain. I succeeded after almost a month.

    "I waited another month. And then I got the chance to escape."

    Mr Tung said he prayed for rain to escape unnoticed, adding that he ran "through the dense jungle for hours and hours" until he reached a village.

    Exhausted and dehydrated, he collapsed until the next day, when a villager alerted the police.

    While in captivity, Mr Tung and his cousin were fed only plain rice and some fried fish, and were not allowed to wash themselves for three months. There was no running water or electricity, he added.

    The gunmen were planning to "shoot us or just dump us at sea" after securing the ransom, he said, adding that they overheard their captors' discussions.

    "It was very traumatising," the New Straits Times quoted him as saying.