'ACTS OF KINDNESS': Chang tells how she cooked, washed kidnappers' clothes during her captivity
KOTA KINABALU: SHE cooked and washed their clothes, hoping that her acts of kindness could bring out the compassion in her captors, the same ones believed to have killed her partner she was vacationing with.
An-Wei Chang, the Taiwanese tourist who was kidnapped from Pulau Pom Pom off Sabah last month, soldiered on for 35 days, sleeping near bushes under the watchful eyes of her captors and praying hard for her ordeal to end.
"Although I was very tired, I did those chores hoping that could somehow guarantee my safety.
"I just want to say I deeply appreciate the Philippine military for giving me such a big help and assistance to rescue me.
"Thank you very much," Chang told the local media yesterday, a day after she was rescued by Philippines Marines at a village near Talipao, a town on the remote island of Jolo.
Chang was then immediately taken to the nearest military hospital for a medical check-up in the town.
She returned to Taiwan early yesterday afternoon, where local media showed the 58-year-old woman in a loose T-shirt with sunglasses on, walking to a minibus parked at an airport near Taipei and waving briefly, showing the thumbs-up sign to the press corp.
It is understood that she was later taken to a hospital in Taipei for a medical check-up.
Chang had been waking up to different remote locations her kidnappers were holding her captive, while her brother, Richard, and a Taiwanese legislator were busy negotiating a ransom, and buying time for the Malaysian and Philippines security forces team to identify her whereabouts.
They were hinged on the belief that the kidnappers would not harm her as they were were trained to fight soldiers, not unarmed women. They had also not received the ransom that they were after.
Local reports said Chang had somehow, at one point, managed to contact Richard.
They also suggested that Chang's family allegedly paid her kidnappers some RM900,000 to secure her release.
Philippine authorities were quoted saying that the identities of Chang's kidnappers were unknown, though Abu Sayyaf gunmen who were known to carry out kidnappings, operated in the area.
It was reported that Richard had also asked a friend in the Philippines to look for his sister.
It was Nov 15 when Chang and her partner, Hsu Li-min, who were holidaying on the island, were attacked by the armed gunmen.
They killed him and took her with them, first to Mataking island and then to Jolo.
Hsu's body had been cremated in Malaysia and his ashes were brought back to Taiwan last month.
East Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek said he was thankful for Chang's rescue.
"I congratulate the security forces of the Philippines for successfully rescuing the woman," he said, adding that Malaysian security forces would strive to prevent a recurrence and ensure the safety of ESSZone. "We also hope that tourist resort operators in the area will extend their full cooperation to the security forces."