READERS COMMENT: Philippines Charities Must Return Ransom Moniesover 1 year ago AskLegal
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Article Contributed By Joseph Francis
*This article is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of IRR Legal Sdn. Bhd.
If the Malaysian Government and the police have a policy, as publicly stated, of not paying ransom to secure the release of kidnap victims, then it seems that handing over monies to so-called charities to secure the release of kidnap victims is a contradiction in terms
No matter what the actual figure, RM12 million or RM18 million, the charities in the Philippines that reportedly received the ransom monies, purportedly for the release of kidnapped Malaysians, can’t keep them. Otherwise, they can be held party to an illegality.
We are assuming that these charities, Islamic we are told, did receive the said monies as announced by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. The Home Minister, in any case, has to do better before Malaysians can be persuaded that the ransom monies did end up with the so-called charities. So far, we have very little to go on.
It’s not a question of trust, but procedure.
For starters, we have learnt that the families of the four kidnap victims handed over at least RM12 million to two Special Branch men in eastern Sabah. How the Special Branch comes into the picture is anybody’s guess. Thereafter, the picture gets murky.
It appears, as it’s being implied, that we have to swallow whatever position has been taken by Putrajaya on the ransom monies as the Gospel Truth. They say once bitten, twice shy. After the various mega global financial scandals that have hit the country, no one is buying this.
It’s difficult to believe that Abu Sayyaf would kidnap Malaysians, as usual, for ransom and agree that the sums demanded be handed over to so-called Islamic charities in the Philippines. The charities are probably in a better position than Abu Sayyaf. It’s the militants who are in a bad shape and need funds. There’s no evidence either that the militants are operating under the cover of the charities. Besides, charities seek public and government donations. They don’t go around outsourcing kidnappings to raise funds.
Something doesn’t smell right. It seems that we are faced with another situation where crimes may have taken place and yet we don’t know who the criminals are.
Déjà vu! The mega global financial scandals bogging down the Administration, have so far turned out to be a case of crimes being committed but without any criminals being apprehended in the country. The nearest are those who have been nabbed in Singapore for facilitating money laundering activities. The same thing may happen in Switzerland and elsewhere where investigations are taking place. The banks involved are likely to just get a rap on the knuckles by way of fines.
In the case of the ransom monies paid to the charities in the Philippines, we have to get more information that leads to the smoking gun. Obviously, we can get nothing out of Zahid and the Special Branch. In fact, the Special Branch may not even be involved.
In that case, we wonder who turned up and collected the ransom monies from the families of the victims.
If the Malaysian Government and the police have a policy, as publicly stated, of not paying ransom to secure the release of kidnap victims, then it seems that handing over monies to so-called charities to secure the release of kidnap victims is a contradiction in terms. We don’t have to get into rhetoric and polemics on the issue.
(Image source: BBC)