Kidnapping victim Chang An-wei (張安薇) is doing well and has been released from hospital, her brother Chang Ta-kung (張大公) said yesterday in an interview in which he gave some details on how her release was secured from captors in the Philippines.
Speaking to a local radio station, Chang Ta-kung said that his sister is in good health, other than a fracture in her right pinky, and she will help with the official investigation into the incident.
Chang Ta-kung said that when he was first told that his sister had been abducted during a holiday in East Malaysia on Nov. 15, he thought it was a fraudster using an old trick to extort money.
After realizing it was not a ruse, he followed police instructions to try to negotiate with the kidnappers, who had taken Chang An-wei to the southern Philippines.
Asked if he paid a ransom to secure his sister’s release, he said: “The official story is we didn’t pay the money.”
“When kidnappers saw the power of the Philippine police, they simply fled,” he said.
Prior to her release after 36 days, contact with the kidnappers was lost at one point when they went into hiding, leaving the Chang family nervous.
Even so, he said that the perpetrators were not as horrible as everyone imagines, and they told him that the fatal shooting of Chang An-wei’s partner when she was taken was a “terrible mistake.”
Chang Ta-kung said he wanted to salute all the agencies and individuals who contributed to his sister’s safe return, although he did note that some statements from politicians and the media were misinformed or revealed sensitive information that “resulted in terrifying crises during the rescue process.”
Chang Ta-kung said that his sister was picked at random and that the kidnappers had no knowledge at the time that she was acquainted with Taiwan’s first family.
Chang An-wei knew President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) sister, Ma Li-chun (馬莉君), and first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) from school, Chang Ta-kung said.
While he had considered asking for the help of Ma Li-chun at first, he chose not to once the Criminal Investigation Bureau took up the case.
In the end, Ma Li-chun’s son, Gene Yu (余靖), a former commanding officer in the US Army Special Forces, helped to secure Chang An-wei’s release.
Yu’s involvement was critical to bringing Chang An-wei home successfully, he said, expressing his gratitude again for the former Green Beret’s assistance.
“We want to thank him again and again for this life-saving effort,” Chang Ta-kung said, praising Yu as “the greatest of friends.”
“He is noble, brave, and one thing that I don’t often say of people: a great man,” he added.
He said that Yu had left President Ma in the dark when he took the initiative to get in touch with the Chang family and later involved himself in the rescue mission.
Chang Ta-kung praised Yu for helping bring about a happy ending and for his commitment only to the rescue, as proven by his shunning of publicity after returning to Taiwan — even though he was visiting from the US to promote his book.
Chang Ta-kung dismissed speculation that Yu was romantically involved with an already married niece of the Chang family.
“That story would be too romantic,” he quipped.
He also criticized “groups spouting nonsense” over the kidnapping and the people involved, calling them “clowns” and saying he hopes they will not “create difficulties for the government” by making a big deal out of the incident.