MP: Why did department hand child back to abusive parents?

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PETALING JAYA: DAP Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching is demanding an explanation from the Batu Pahat welfare department (JKM) on why it returned a child to its supposedly abusive parents.

She said this in response to a Bernama report that a 21-month-old boy, believed to be an abuse victim, died after being admitted to the Sultanah Nora Ismail Hospital in Batu Pahat.

Batu Pahat district police chief ACP Abdul Wahid Musa was quoted as saying the boy, Muhammad Al Fateh Abdullah, was admitted to the children’s intensive care unit of the hospital on Sunday evening.

Wahid said the boy was in critical condition and unconscious due to bodily injuries, and was placed on life support. He died at 12.45pm yesterday.

He also said the boy had been admitted to hospital three times previously.

According to him, a medical examination on the boy found a crack on his right arm and he was handed over to the JKM for protection.

However, the department later returned the child to his family.

Wahid said in a statement yesterday that a post-mortem would be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Speaking to FMT, Teo asked whether the JKM had taken the necessary steps to ensure the boy was in good hands.

“After they returned the boy to the adoptive parents, did they follow up with regular visits to make sure he was in good hands?” she asked.

She also questioned what aid had the police given to JKM in the case.

“The victim had been admitted to the hospital three times before. So other than the JKM, the question is why was there no action taken by the police?

“The abusive parents should have been investigated and charged in court. Under certain circumstances, if there is not enough evidence, then it becomes the duty of the JKM to make regular visits.”

Teo also wondered whether the Child Welfare Team, provided under the Child Act, had served its function when it came to the adopted boy.

“Section 7A of the Child Act, which was introduced in 2016, states that the role of the Child Welfare Team is to coordinate locally-based services to families and children if the children are or are suspected of being in need of protection or rehabilitation.

“It is their duty to supervise the wellbeing of this child. I just wonder if the team is serving its function.”

According to Wahid, the child’s adoptive parents, aged 30 and 34, were arrested at their home at 9am yesterday to assist in the investigation.

The case is being investigated under Section 31 (1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine not exceeding RM5,000.