Batu Gajah charity home told to seek help

PETALING JAYA: A veteran doctor has weighed in on the controversy sparked by a report alleging that a charity home in Batu Gajah kept some of its mentally-handicapped inmates in pens.

Those in charge of the facility should have sought the help of the authorities the moment they found that resources were inadequate, said H Krishna Kumar, a former president of the Malaysian Medical Association and now Chairman of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Representative Committee.

He was commenting on reports that the home had opted to isolate inmates who would attack fellow inmates, sometimes by biting them.

Krishna said he understood that the home lacked resources to handle some of the inmates but he added that isolating them was not the solution.

“It is generous of them to take in as many people as they can,” he said. “But if they do not have the resources, they should seek the help of the authorities.”

He said the home could either seek more funds or ask the authorities to relocate some of the inmates to other facilities.

He urged officials at the facility to find out why some inmates would lash out at others. Identifying the reasons could help in addressing the problem, he added.

He said he was against isolating the severely mentally-handicapped. “It will not only affect their social skills, but may lead to depression and development of other mental disorders.”

News of the disabled being kept in pens at the Rumah Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Batu Gajah was first reported on the World of Buzz by someone who identified herself only as “Vivian”. She said she had gone to the facility to check on her aunt.

In a subsequent news report, the facility’s chairman, Sivalingam Ramasamy, said 10 inmates were being kept in the pens at night.

The facility houses 47 disabled inmates between the ages of 15 and 60. It has six full-time workers and some partially-disabled volunteers to monitor the inmates.

The practice of keeping severely disabled inmates in pens began in 2009. According to the home, the Welfare Department was aware of the practice.