MP SPEAKS Our inspector-general of police must come down from his throne and explain to the people, professionally, on the rise in babies being sold in the black market after 14 years, despite reports in BBC News back in July 2002, instead of impulsively denying the truth that Malaysia is, sadly, a hub for this trade.
A BBC News report on July 22, 2002, titled "Police target Malaysia baby-snatchers" calls into question inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar's current claim that Malaysia is not a hub for baby-selling, for even after 14 years since that report, syndicates have found a profitable industry in the buying and selling of babies.
From the various exposés over the past few years - of Malaysia's unwanted refugees, to Sabah's invisible children, to the plight of the indigenous Orang Asli, to a vicious human trafficking ring - last week, Al-Jazeera's '101 East' programme opened yet another can of worms by exposing baby-selling syndicates reigning in Malaysia for years and years, undetected and given due protection by doctors, welfare homes, National Registration Department (NRD) staff as well as by the police.
Of course, the IGP, the Women, Community and Development Ministry and the Health Ministry are all up in arms and want to follow the money trail to nail the perpetrators. They have also said they have given their full commitment to speed up the adoption process, to nab doctors, nurses and healthcare facilities in between, to investigate all unscrupulous parties involved and to bring them to face charges.
"It cannot be denied that baby selling occurs in Malaysia, but it is not as easy as shown in the video, because the police constantly monitor such activities. This effort was enhanced in 2008 with the formation of the Anti-Trafficking of Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (D7C, Atipsom) unit as well as the Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) of the CID to investigate sexual crimes," IGP Khalid said.
He also rejected claims that the police did not vigorously pursue baby-sellers, and highlighted six arrests from 2010, including doctors and nurses, and that four babies were rescued in separate operations in 2014 and 2015.
Wake up call
While credit must be given to good police officers and doctors who have not allowed their principles and moral values to be compromised by accepting bribes or allow themselves to be sucked into a corrupt cycle, there have been immoral, despicable dirty cops and doctors who have allowed this to happen without batting an eye. This is evident from the mere six arrests in six years when the numbers we are dealing with are far bigger now, in addition to a thriving industry that once raised alarm bells in 2002.
Going back to the BBC report of 2002, it clearly showed that there has been an alarming number of babies being sold in the black market and that Malaysian and Indonesian police are discussing ways to tackle the trade.
Back then it was reported that gangs ran this syndicate and one was even found to have kept 30 pregnant women in a single apartment in Kuching, Sarawak. And this was in 2002, 14 years ago!
With rampant abuses of position, power and privilege, doctors and healthcare providers, as well as the police and NRD staff, this illicit industry has proven to be able to operate invisibly and unknown to the authorities.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim has stated that this baby-selling scandal should be a wake-up call to everyone and urged the police to conduct investigations, while Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam says he has kicked off investigations and has committed to deregistering doctors and revoking the licences of centres involved in baby-selling rings.
Only the IGP seems to be in denial.
IGP must be stern
I raised this matter of the rising number of babies born out of wedlock, using Islamic Development Department (Jakim) statistics and the matter of adoption, in Parliament on Oct 30, 2014.
An article in The Star of Sept 28, 2014, states that more baby hatches will be set up all over the country through a joint venture between OrphanCARE Foundation and KPJ Healthcare Sdn Bhd, and be monitored by the Women's Ministry.
As of 2014, 3,700 applicants are on a waiting list to adopt babies and it is estimated that there are more than 400,000 children in orphanages all over the country, waiting to be adopted. Despite all these efforts, how did we end up where we are now?
Parliamentary questions more than often resonate the grouses on the ground. Despite many warnings, the Malaysian government has failed to act swiftly on the disturbing growth of this vile trade.
What IGP Khalid should have said is that they will come down hard, without fear or favour, on the baby sellers, no matter how powerful their connections are. And that he is not afraid to name and shame.
Instead, Khalid now takes a very defensive stance, which will be extremely detrimental to the investigations and prosecutions.
The IGP must come down from his throne and explain to the public, professionally, on the rise of babies being sold in the black market after 14 years, despite the reports by the BBC back in July 2002, instead of impulsively denying the truth that Malaysia is, sadly, a hub for this trade.
KASTHURI PATTO is the MP for Batu Kawan.