The Johor Welfare Department today obtained a court order to place the child under the care of a children's protection home for a month. Pix by Zain Ahmed
Singaporean Cannie Ong, in her 40s, at the press conference to explain her adoption of a two-year-old Malaysian child, at the Southern Johor Chinese Press Club in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: A Singaporean couple today clarified that they did not ‘buy’ a two-year-old Malaysian child, and had instead adopted her via proper legal channels.

However, they have since decided to give up the toddler after knowing that caring for her would be problematic for many other people.

Addressing the press for the first time here today, Cannie Ong, a Singaporean in her 40s said she and her husband had adopted the girl late last year.

“I have come here today to say I will let go of the adoption. I will not care for the child any more because of the many problems that have arisen," Ong told the media at the Southern Johor Chinese Press Club, here today.

Ong said she first met the toddler in Johor Baru in August last year through a middleman.

She said she had never met the girl's father, and had sorted out the adoption matters through a Johor-based lawyer.

"When I met the middleman again much later, he told me about problems he had with paying for the girl's babysitter and medical expenses.

"My husband and I paid the middleman S$4,000 (RM12,193) as a gift for her babysitter's fee and medical fees. It (the money) was not for buying her. We don't want the money back either," said Ong.

She said that she and her husband, who is a Singapore permanent resident, had been longing for a girl as they have a young son.

She said she adored the girl from the moment she first laid eyes on her.

A media storm broke out last month when the girl was reported missing on Dec 10. The girl’s father claimed he last saw her on that date at a budget hotel in Taman Pelangi.

Following her disappearance, a National Urgent Response (NUR) alert for the girl was sent out.

It later emerged that the girl’s relatives, who had been caring for her, claimed that the girl’s father had taken her away from them on Nov 9, supposedly to go out and play.

Her mother, a Vietnam national, had returned to her home country when the girl was five-months-old.

The girl’s relatives then lodged a police report after the father failed to bring the girl home.

The girl’s father however, claimed that a friend of his had taken the girl for a walk, and had given him “several thousand ringgit” in return. The father lodged a report a month after she disappeared.

Johor police chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd had said that the girl was handed over to the police by a couple on Sunday.

The Johor Welfare Department today obtained a court order to place the girl at a child protection home for a month, pending police's investigations under Section 48 of the Child Act 2001 for unlawful transfer of possession, custody or control of a child.