Friday March 15, 2013
Authorities looking for parents of ‘abandoned’ boy
KUCHING: The Welfare Department will work closely with the police to find the parents of a four-year-old boy believed to have been abandoned here last Monday.
Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said this was necessary before further action could be taken.
“Despite the obvious, the child might not have been abandoned. So for the time being, we’ll get a court order to place the child in our children’s home temporarily,” she said when asked to comment on Tini Abdul Rashid, whose parents might have been forced to abandon him due to poverty.
Under the Child Protection Act, children have the right to protection and security.
In keeping with this, the children’s home in Kuching and Sri Aman provide a safe place for those who are neglected, abused and/or abandoned.
A child is placed in one of these homes as a last resort, and if that happens, he/she stays until the age of 18.
Tini was left by his parents, Abdul Rashid Zawawi and Siti Aishah Abdullah, with a cook at a coffeeshop near Bormill Estate by Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce at 11am on Monday.
They told the cook that they had to attend a wedding reception in Samarahan and could not bring him along.
The cook left the boy with another worker who brought him home, cleaned him up and gave him her children’s clothes.
When the parents failed to pick up the boy last Wednesday afternoon, the worker brought him to Sungai Apong police station.
Last August, The Star highlighted the plight of Tini’s family when they were living in an abandoned house near Bormill Estate.
A Good Samaritan eventually helped them find a decent home and secured a job for Rashid, but after some time, and for some unclear reason, the family moved back to the abandoned house.
The Star visited the abandoned house which Rashid moved back to yesterday. No one was there but the family’s belonging such as clothes, pillows, toys and cooking utensils were strewn on the first floor and some dumped outside the house. It seemed like the couple had left in a hurry and did not bother to pack.
Fatimah said if the parents could not be found after all means had been exhausted, Tini could be placed with foster parents temporarily as it was best for children to grow up in a family setting than a children’s home.
“If there’s no willing foster parents, we’ll get a court order to place the child in one of the welfare homes.”
At the home, she said, the employees would do their best to provide a safe, caring and loving setting for him so that he would have good childhood memories.
“We also get them (children at the home) to learn vocational skills and develop their talents and interests.”
She said if the parents were found, Tini’s fate would depend on a court ruling based on the Welfare Department’s report and investigation.
To a question, Fatimah said presently, the department’s officers were not trained to identify and assess mentally unsound parents.
“If parents are believed to be mentally unsound, we need a doctor to assess and verify that they are not qualified to bring up their children.”