Women's ministry denies baby-snatching incident at Lahad Datu Hospital

PUTRAJAYA: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry today refuted all report that claimed that a Bajau Laut baby was snatched away from a stateless mother in a hospital in Sabah.

The ministry said that checks on the claims brought up by the news portal on Sept 15 revealed it was an old case managed by a guardian from the Lahad Datu district social welfare office in 2021.

The placement of the baby with a 'Suitable and Qualified Person' was initially done via a temporary order under Paragraph 19(2)(b) of the Child Act 2001 issued by the Children's Court, while the process of identifying the parents or legal guardians was conducted.

After obtaining confirmation from the sea gypsies village elder in Lahad Datu, the guardian offered the birth parents custody of the child, but they decided to hand over the child through a statutory declaration, as they were unable to take care of the child financially and could not bear the child's medical costs, and have abandoned the premature baby at the Lahad Datu Hospital.

The ministry categorically stated that the claims levelled in the report, which stated that there were three similar incidents recorded, where two mothers regained the custody of their children, while the remaining mother killed herself and her baby at the hospital when she was threatened with the loss of custody, were untrue.

It also said that the single case was managed properly according to set procedures.

The ministry said a case review session on managing such custody cases was held yesterday following the report and that a police report was lodged today at the Lahad Datu district police headquarters to refute the false allegations.

"The ministry provides assurance of full cooperation with the authorities when investigation begins," it stated, adding that it would not hesitate to take necessary action against any official if such allegations were true and actually happened. — BERNAMA

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