On October 5 2006, a close relative of three-year-old Lau Jun Wei and her boyfriend rushed into a doctor’s clinic in Taman University, Johor Baru with the boy in their arms no longer breathing. The couple claimed that Jun Wei suffered a fall. The doctor was shocked by the boy’s injuries and said she has never seen such a condition in a child in her 21 years of practice. She could not even sleep that night.
There were indications of hot water scalding all over his body. He had injuries at the back of his head, genitals and rectum. Jun Wei’s eyes were blue-black. He had marks on his hands and legs suggesting that he was tied up. His buttocks showed that he was repeatedly whipped. Cigarette burns on his thighs were found.
The doctor knew that the boy was already dead and reported the case to the police, suspecting that there was child abuse involved. Johor Baru police has arrested the 22-year-old unemployed woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend for murder investigations. They will be remanded until October 16.
Jun Wei is believed to have lived in a terrible condition. The suspects often lock him up in the room with a little dog while they went out.
The suspects rented two rooms in a house along Jalan Kebudayaan, Taman University which belongs to the woman’s brother-in-law. They have been staying there since three months ago. The parents of the boy seperated and the father is believed to be on the run from loan sharks. However, it seems that the female suspect is actually the mother of Jun Wei.
The house was also shared by several other tenants, who suspect something was amiss about the boy but did not do anything about it. They heard the boy crying occasionally and loud thumping sounds after midnight. Jun Wei was seldom out of the room.
Jun Wei used to live in Muar with his paternal uncle since he was born, but the female suspect took him away five months ago. Before that, Jun Wei was described as a cheerful and outgoing boy. The uncle met up with Jun Wei three months later and noticed that he was very quiet.
The post-mortem report released on October 6 showed that several major blows to the back of Jun Wei’s skull inflicted a few days ago caused massive internal bleeding. Thus, blue-black marks around his eyes appeared. He could have gone into a coma before he was rushed to the clinic.
Jun Wei’s body was released to his grandmother and uncle from Muar. The grandmother was weeping as she said she last saw Jun Wei two months ago. She said she kissed him on the forehead and asked if he was alright and he started to cry. Had she realized that there was something wrong with Jun Wei, she would have kept him away from the place of horror in Taman Univerisiti.
Vijayakumari Pillai of Kajang wrote to the New Straits Times on October 9 2006, imploring the authorities to charge the family members, as accorded by Section 28 of the Child Act 2001. It states that if any member of the family or guardian of a child who believes on reasonable grounds that the child is abused, neglected or abandoned, shall immediately inform a protector. Failure to comply is classified as an offence.
A member of the family includes the parents, guardian, and household members, who reside in the same household as the child.
Pillai feels that this law is not given enough publicity and that “the public should be made aware of the consequences of such apathy”.
Public apathy is one of the culprits in this case, along with many other social problems in this country. Family members and neighbours should have been pro-active in their suspicions and protect the child. There is hardly any excuse for these parties to not notice a problem in the boy as the symptoms and lack of proper care are obvious to see.
If you know of a child who is suffering from abuse or neglect, please take action and deal with the child’s caretaker.
The laws protecting children should be given more publicity and the courts must exercise the full extent of the law to punish the culprits.
New parents and newly-wed couples should be given adequate education and counselling on the responsibilities of having children. They should be made to realize how important and delicate care should be given to raising children and not dive into parenthood without proper consideration and practical planning.
The Government should take an active role in providing child welfare services, much like the United States. Child Protective Services (CPS) should be adopted to protect children from abuse and neglect. There must be an avenue for socially-responsible people to be employed or volunteer themselves to serve the needs of CPS. Click here for an example of what CPS does.
The Department of Social Welfare and the Malaysian Association for the Protection of Children are two organizations which can help reduce child abuse cases. The president of the second one, Mohd. Sham Kasim, can be contacted at msham-at-medic.upm.edu.my.
Further reading on child welfare in Malaysia:
Implementation of Article 12 in Juvenile Justice System in Malaysia
Progress and Challenges in Human Development in Malaysia: Ideas for the Ninth Malaysia Plan
Technorati Tags: boy, child, abuse, child abuse, jun wei, lau jun wei, malaysia, johor baru, taman universiti, jalan kebudayaan, muar, child act, child welfare, child protective services, apathy, murder, internal bleeding, child protection