SUBANG, Malaysia Feb 17 — This year’s Chinese New Year celebration means a lot to fisherman, Low Siang Huat, 59, because after being detained by Indonesian authorities for the past one year, he was finally released in time for the auspicious day.

Low, who was freed by the authorities Thursday said, he was happy and grateful to be back in his homeland and reunited with his family again.

The fisherman from Pulau Ketam, Selangor state, was detained on Feb 16 last year after he was believed to have encroached into Indonesian territorial waters.

“I wish to thank Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the government for their concern and in negotiating with the Indonesian government to secure my release,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Low who arrived at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport here from Hang Nadim International Airport, Batam at about 2.20 pm, was warmly received by family members, Selangor Fishermen Association members and representatives of Selangor Fisheries Development Authority.

Meanwhile, his son-in-law, Teng Poon Loy, 37, said for the last one year his family had waited anxiously for his father-in-law’s return following his detention at the Tanjung Pinang Prison,Indonesia.

According to Teng he had made seven visits to the prison and the last he visited his father-in-law there was in September.

“To have him reunited with us on Chinese New Year makes it a meaningful gift… we plan to hold a big dinner this evening to celebrate his return,” he said.

Apart from Low, five other fishermen still being detained are Chia Kee Chan, 52 (Labuhan Deli Prison, Medan); Kamaruzaman Awi, 47 and Abdul Rashid Nik, 53 (Lanal Terempe, Riau), Mahabob Hasimat, 55, (Tanjung Pinang Prison) and Leong Biang Seng, 61 (Batam Prison).

Earlier, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry secretary-general, Dr Ismail Bakar in a statement said, Low was freed following an agreement between Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the 12th Malaysia-Indonesia Annual Leaders’ Consultation in Kuching, Sarawak last November.

“There are five more fishermen still being detained. A meeting to negotiate on their release was held between Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Indonesia’s Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti on Jan 11.

“The Indonesian authorities have given us the assurance that the Malaysian fishermen will be released in stages beginning this month,” he added.

Source: NAM News Network