PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The families of two Malaysians kidnapped from a Sandakan restaurant are very worried for the deteriorating health of their loved ones, who are being held hostage in the southern Philippines.
It has been 51 days since Ms Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, and Mr Bernard Then Ted Fun, 39, were abducted by Abu Sayyaf linked-gunmen from the seaside Ocean King seafood restaurant, some 3km from Sandakan town in mid May.
Ms Thien, who was manager of the restaurant, and Mr Then, a customer, are being held under close guard on a southern Philippine island.
Both the hostages, who are unrelated to one another, have had no access to medication for health problems that afflict them.
Ms Thien's son Chung Chin Lung, 31, says he is very worried as his mother suffers from high blood pressure.
"She is always complaining about headaches… she is always asking for her medicine," he told The Star Online on Friday, adding that his mother could not sleep at all.
Mr Chung said his mother is so worried about her pressure that she only dares to eat white rice.
Mr Then's wife Chan Wai See, 40, said her husband is pre-diabetic and suffers from gout as he has no choice but to eat the food provided by the kidnappers.
Mr Then is also worried about his fellow hostage Thien, and keeps on asking if medicine can be sent.
"He was also asking if there was any help… He sounds calm but I think he doesn't want me to be worried," Ms Chan said, with tears in her eyes.
Ms Chan was in the restaurant when her husband was kidnapped. It was the first time that her engineer husband, who was working in Cambodia, had been to Sandakan.
For the hostages' families, grappling with uncertainty is only making them restless. The kidnappers contact them almost weekly, demanding a huge ransom for their loved ones.
Ms Chan said that they do not have the means to meet the demands as they are ordinary citizens with limited resources.
She said Mr Then's siblings take turns to be with his parents in Kuching.
Mr Then is the youngest of four siblings.
"His parents are very worried and every day they call to ask about his situation and progress. We have to comfort them," she said.
Similarly, Mr Chung said his grandmother calls every day to ask about her daughter and has been eating less these days.
He also said that some people have been making all kinds of remarks, with people saying than Ms Thien is dead and some even accusing him of not doing anything to save his mother.
"Already we are hurting … What can we do?" he said.
The only saving grace, if any, is that Mr Then and Ms Thien have one another for support. Mr Chan said both of them were taking care of one another.
Both families are also talking to one another constantly, informing one another when there is contact with the kidnappers.
Having exhausted almost all avenues, both families are also appealing to Prime Minister Najib Razak, Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem and Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman to help them secure the safe release of their family members.
Mr Chan said he also hoped that the kidnappers would be compassionate in the holy month of Ramadan and free their loved ones.
"As I understand they also have family and children there… So have the same feeling for our family members," said Mr Chan.