KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun had the best sleep in six months after tasting freedom and returning to her home in the east coast town of Sandakan.
Months of worry, stress and anxiety evaporated when she was reunited with her 78-year-old mother Chin Foh Tai and two sons Chung Chin Loong, 31, and Chung Chin Vui, 26, on Monday (Nov 9).
"We were all very emotional and happy when we met our mother," said Chin Loong when contacted by The Star on Tuesday (Nov 10).
Chin Loong, who was reluctant to speak much, said his mother was "doing fine" and needed her rest and not to be disturbed at the moment.
"She is now taking her time to rest, catch up with us and we do not want to speak to anyone about the incident at this point of time," he said.
Chin Loong said it was a special reunion for the family as they gathered at her house to welcome her home.
"We were told at the last minute that she (Ms Thien) was on her way back with security forces and we were all very shocked, emotional and happy at the same time. We immediately prepared some of her favourite dishes," he said.
When asked whether Ms Thien was spending time with her elderly mother, Chin Loong did not want to say where she was.
"We do not want to have many people or reporters swarming the house because at this point, we just want to be with family members and be left alone," he said.
Ms Thien arrived in Sandakan early on Monday, following a six-hour boat ride from Jolo island and was handed over to her family after she was freed by Abu Sayyaf captors late Sunday.
No ransom was paid to secure her release, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.
She was released following negotiations between the Malaysian authorities and her captors, he added.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said the close collaboration between the Malaysian and Philippine authorities led to her release.
"The kidnap of one victim is settled, but we have another victim who has not been released. Negotiations will continue to be carried out to secure his release.
"We believe if the captors are generous to not impose strict conditions, then the other victim will be released soon," he said when asked to comment on Ms Thien's release.
Ms Thien and engineer Bernard Then were taken from the Sandakan Ocean King seafood restaurant on May 14, and held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the southern Philippines island of Jolo.
Police are now focusing their attention on securing the release of Mr Then, 39.
Sabah Police Commissioner Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said they were continuing with efforts in getting Mr Then released.
Datuk Jalaluddin said Thien arrived in Sandakan after a six hour boat ride from Jolo island and was handed over to her family.
"Before that she had to walk a long distance. She was tired and weak because of the long travelling distance apart from some emotional issues," he said.