‘I thought I was going to die. I thought this was my last Christmas…’
‘I was afraid of not being able to see my family again’, says kidnap victim
WITH the muzzle of an assault rifle pointed at his head, Ruby Nyalu thought this was it. He recounts the ordeal that he and four others went through after being kidnapped by Tentera Nasional Indonesia soldiers at the Sarawak-West Kalimantan border on Dec 11.
WITH a Pindad SS-1 rifle trained to his head, Ruby Nyalu was certain he was about to die. “I thought I was going to die. I thought this was my last Christmas.
“The only thing playing in my head was my family... I remember thinking that I won’t see them again.”
Ruby, 30, was among five Malaysians who were kidnapped by Tentera Nasional Indonesia (TNI) soldiers at the Sarawak-West Kalimantan border on Dec 11.
He said on the day of the incident, he and his friends were collecting wood at the Wong Rangkai forest near Kampung Danau Melikin, 400m from the Indonesian border. The wood, said Ruby, was to build a house.
Two soldiers, dressed in battle fatigues and armed with rifles, approached them.
Ruby and his friends were forced into their vehicle — a fourwheel-drive belonging to Ruby’s father — and drove to the Indonesian command post in Sungai Engkeli.
“One of the soldiers sat next to the driver. Another sat behind with his gun trained on us.”
Ruby said once they arrived at the command post, they were told to strip to their underwear and had their faces covered with black hoods.
They were assaulted by 12 people.
“They kept accusing us of stealing wood from Indonesian territory. Each time I denied it, they would beat me.”
Ruby and his friends were not only punched, but also whipped with rotan. He sustained several injuries to the face and body.
Of the five, three were held overnight by the soldiers, while two were released at 4pm. The two were told to inform the hostages’ families to hand over RM10,000 and two new chainsaws the same night.
The duo, instead, went straight to the Balai Ringin camp. Following negotiations, the three men were released the next day.
Ruby said the incident had since haunted them.
“We’re traumatised by the event. We didn’t think something like this could happen to us. All we wanted was to collect wood to build a house.”
He said he was grateful to Wisma Putra, the National Security Council, police, as well as the army for their roles in gaining their freedom.
“Christmas this year will be more meaningful than ever.”
He hoped a Malaysian command post would be established in the area to prevent a recurrence.
People claimed that over the last seven years, Indonesians, as well as TNI soldiers, had been crossing the border freely, raising concern among the locals.
Kampung Danau Melikin village head Nyalu Tampa, 60, said the village appeared to have been “controlled” by foreigners ever since the area was developed into an oil palm plantation.
“We had voiced our concerns over the plantation as this is native customary land.”
He claimed that the plantation owner was working with TNI to “look after” the site.
“The plantation owner built an access road so that the army can get food supplies. They (TNI) are allowed to move around freely and even threatened us not to interfere with the plantation’s operations.”