The abduction of a Taiwanese woman on a resort island off the East Malaysian state of Sabah has led legislators to ask the Ministry of National Defense yesterday whether it was possible to send special forces to Malaysia for extraction.
Hsu Li-min (許立民), a 57-year-old businessman, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Pom Pom Island off Semporna on Wednesday last week and his female companion, Chang An-wei (張安薇), 58, was abducted by the assailants.
In response to lawmakers’ queries during the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee meeting yesterday, Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) said that although Taiwan has the capability, armed forces are reserved for the use of armed conflict between nation and the ministry should not step into an international incident.
“Our anti-terrorist special-forces have the ability for armed extraction, but for them to be deployed on Malaysia’s sovereign soil there must be mutual defense and support treaties between our two countries,” Yen said.
Separately, on the sidelines of a hearing of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said: “We are cooperating with international organizations and have obtained key clues.”
However, Lee refused to go into detail, saying he would not like to fuel speculations that could endanger the hostage’s safety or cause trouble for investigators.
Lee confirmed on Wednesday that Taiwan had received a telephone call from the Philippines, during which a ransom was requested in connection with Chang.
He also revealed that the government was informed as early as Friday last week that Chang, 58, had been taken to the Philippines and was still alive.
Malaysian authorities said Chang may have been taken to Sulu or Tawi Tawi on the southwestern tip of the Philippines. However, Ramon Zagala, a spokesman for the Philippine military, said he could not confirm the information. He promised to continue monitoring the situation in the southern Philippines.
Meanwhile, a funeral was held in Sabah for Hsu at 11am yesterday, with his brother and nephews in attendance. The body will be cremated and his ashes brought home.