Channel NewsAsia

Singaporean recounts shooting incident on Mabul Island

A Singaporean tourist who was staying at the diving resort on Mabul Island said the shooting happened right outside his door.

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean tourist who was staying at a diving resort on Mabul Island when a shooting incident took place on Saturday (July 12) found himself mere seconds away from the crime scene. A policeman was killed and a second kidnapped after heavily armed gunmen opened fire at the diving resort on Saturday night.

Mr Tan Hui Leong, who was staying in the resort's kelong-style accomodation on the water when the incident took place, said the shooting happened right outside his door.

At around 11pm on Saturday, he was getting ready to take a nap before catching a World Cup match when he heard gunshots. "It sounded like it was happening 5 to 10 metres away from my room. I heard a series of gunshots, then there was a pause before they started again. All together, I think I heard more than 10 shots fired." 

It was only at around 1am that the police came knocking on his door, said Mr Tan. "They were afraid that the gunmen might be holding us hostage inside our rooms, so all the guests had to come out and show our faces." 

He later pieced together the events of the night based on viewings of the resort's security footage, and anecdotal accounts from the resort's staff. 

According to Mr Tan, the gunmen had entered the resort via its helipad, where they accosted a sleeping policeman. Another policeman happened upon the scene and tried to run, so the gunmen gave chase. They eventually pursued him to the water, where they shot at him when he jumped in.  

The scene of the shooting was so close to where he was staying, said Mr Tan, "I wouldn't even need a minute to walk there from my room. It was quite a scary feeling because it was just right outside my doorstep".

This kidnapping is the fourth incident of its kind in Sabah since April. Channel NewsAsia understands that the Singaporeans who were staying at the resort on the night of the incident are safe.

In the wake of those reports, the number of Singaporeans visiting East Malaysia has plunged by some 70 per cent in the past year, according to one travel agency in Singapore.

Hong Thai Travel said about 28,000 Singaporeans visited Sabah last year, with Mabul Island very popular among diving enthusiasts.

Ms Stella Chow, a senior manager at Hong Thai Travel, said: "Besides Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, the surrounding areas and the cities are also pretty much affected because overall, people feel that it's East Malaysia as a whole. And because of the safety issues that we are concerned with, we've also stopped promoting the destination for the time being."

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