Wednesday March 6, 2013
Business slow or none at all for Semporna market traders
SEMPORNA: Hopping across the border illegally from her home in one of the Indonesian islands near Tawau to sell ocean produce at Semporna market is a daily routine for Maimunah (not her real name).
But instead of selling off her seaweed and shellfish within an hour as she normally would, she had to stay back at her stall longer yesterday.
“There are fewer people out in the market today,” said Maimunah, who had been trading at the market for a long time.
The Indonesian islands of Nunukan and Sebatik are only an hour's boat ride from Semporna and it is common for people to cross borders to trade.
After Saturday's deadly gun battle in Simunul water village, a three-minute drive from the market, some residents fled or chose to remain indoors, even though the market is open.
But others are going about their business as usual although keeping a watchful eye if things should change.
Local trader Aini Johari, 30, stayed away for two days after the shooting. However, yesterday she came out as she had no choice.
“I am scared but I need to make a living,” she said, adding that she was still coming to terms with Saturday's attack.
In Kampung Simunul, people were still fleeing their homes after hearing rumours that their village would be burnt.
“I worry there may be more fighting,” said Bubung Sarail, 33, as he placed bags of clothing and electrical appliances into his brother-in-law's car to head off somewhere safe to stay for the time being.
The father of three said he would go deep into the village because he didn't know if there were still gunmen remaining or hiding.
Village chief Panglima Ramli Salahman, 56, is staying put with his whole family, including his eight-year-old son.
“I've told the people to remain calm and if there is any explosion or shooting that they are not to leave their houses,” he said. “I also told them not to spread tales of what they have not seen first hand.”
Ramli has barely gotten any sleep since Saturday because he had been staying up to keep vigil over the village.
The village, built over water, has a population of 7,000 people.
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