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Painful, costly lesson for working mother

 | July 3, 2012

She lost her baby placed with an unregistered centre.

KUALA LUMPUR: Working mother Tai Loon Eng thought that she had selected the best childcare centre for her child while she was at work.

Hardly one month with the unregistered childcare centre in Setia Alam, Tai got a frantic call from the centre informing her that her baby, three month-old Tan Yan Xue, was not breathing.

Tai rushed to the centre and found her son was not moving. She rushed him to a hospital where the child was pronounced dead.

Tai, 30, who is now planning to sue, said the centre did not call an ambulance or the hospital when it discovered that her baby was not breathing.

“I did my research and found this centre to be the best although it was not registered. It had CCTVs on the baby’s cot. I thought I could trust the care-takers.

“This was one of the more expensive childcare centres. It charges RM1,000 a month whereas others charge about RM350.”

“I carried my baby for nine months but I don’t have the opportunity to hold him in my arms now,” she said, holding back tears.

Speaking at a press conference organised by Voice of the Children, she said her husband and her were devastated by the loss of their first child and that no parent should go through the same ordeal.

‘Stop this negligence’

Like Yan Xen who passed away in March, 14 infants have passed away under the care of unregistered childcare centres nationwide in the past five months, according to the Voice of the Children. Last year, five infant deaths in similar centres were recorded.

Voice of the Children, an NGO which champions children’s welfare, has launched a petition to raise awareness over the issue.

The group’s chairperson, Sharmila Sekaran, said that according to data from the Social Welfare Department, there are about 3,200 childcare centres nationwide and about two-thirds of them are unregistered.

“This is a campaign to raise awareness for safe and affordable child care,” she said.

She added that most young, working mothers in urban areas had little choice but to send their infants to a childcare centre.

“They can’t leave the child with their parents as they have left their home town. They only have two months maternity leave, so they have little choice but to send their babies to these centres.

“They [mothers] believe that their child would be well cared for, but this is not the case. We need to put a stop to it [negligence],” she added.

The petition is addressed to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, which is headed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

It demands that all childcare centres be registered and given a one-year deadline to get a licence.

“Regular spot checks should also be held to see if these centres operated by the rules,” Sharmila said.

The NGO also wants workers in the childcare centres to be properly trained.

Sharmila said that many childcare centres prefer not to register as there is too much work involved.

“They would have to secure the premises, and then register with the fire and safety department. They also have to deal with the Social Welfare Department. So there is a lot of running to do. So most childcare operators don’t bother to get registered,” she said.

“There is no one-stop centre for them to get all the registration process done,” she said.

Those interested may sign the online version of the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-minister-ministry-of-women-family-community-development-give-us-safe-and-secure-childcare-centres.

Signatures gathered will be forwarded to the ministry.


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