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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Oct 20: The families of five missing anglers are pleading for the Federal and State government to continue search and rescue operations after they went missing while on a fishing expedition in the South China Sea.
The five, Khamizan Saidi, 40 (skipper); Ng Ching Hui, 36; Christopher Teo Kok Kiong, 32; Yap Tze Kang, 41; and Leody Lee Jiann Tarn, 35, haven’t been seen or heard from for over 20 days now.
It was reported that they left Jetty 98 Fishing Village with a blue boat bearing the registration number QKH9826SZ on Oct 1 at 5pm, heading out to sea to fish in the waters between Karang Berumput and Tukan Bass which is about 9.3 nautical miles from Santubong.
On Oct 9, the search and rescue operations involving 115 personnel from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), Civil Defence Force, Police Air Wing Unit, Sarawak Marine Police and Sarawak Coast Guard was halted following the decision to stand down made by Maritime Rescue Sub Centre in Kuching.
MMEA Sarawak director First Admiral Zin Azman Md Yunus told a press conference that the unanimous decision to stand down was made after a futile seven-day search with its KM Cekal and KM Sri Aman ships, Bomba helicopter, CE408 police aircraft and several boats from various agencies.
The enforcement team covered more than 3,144 nautical square miles to date including areas such as Besi Buruk, Tg Sipang, Karang Berumput, Tukun Bass, Pulau Lakei, Pulau Satang, Pulau Sampadi, Batu Mandi, Pulau Satang and Tg Po.
Speaking at a press conference today, Leody’s mother Vicky Lim said all the family members are grateful to the enforcement agencies and local villagers who have helped in the search.
“However, we plead to the government to continue the search. Look at us; the fathers, mothers, wives and children of the victims. We plead for your help, please consider our broken hearts and do not give up.
“We understand that the crucial golden hours of searching for them is long gone because it is already the 20th day that they have gone missing. We’ve been told that there were no clues, signs or things seen during the first seven days of searching.
“On the other hand, what if they are stranded on some island, still adrift at sea or have entered the waters of neighbouring countries or have been kidnapped?” Lim said tearfully.
She added that family members have tried to do what they can, as far as personally chipping in to rent boats to go out to the sea and speaking to local fishermen from nearby villages. asking them to be on the lookout for the missing anglers.
Khamizah’s father, Saidi Razak, also hoped that the government would heed their plea.
“We have been praying every day for a miracle. My son will always return after a fishing trip, at most he will be away for two days. His children aged 16, 13 and 10 have been crying for him, and the eldest has refused to return home; he’s been on the lookout every day by the Santubong homestay beach.
“Please help to find them. I beg of you (the authorities) with all my strength,” Saidi said.
Meanwhile, a joint letter signed by the family members of the missing quintet, appealing to continue the search was delivered to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on Oct 18. — DayakDaily