JOHOR BARU, Dec 28 — The Permaisuri of Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah expressed her sadness today over the death of a four-year-old boy suspected to have been a victim of abuse in Batu Pahat two days ago.
“It really saddened me to hear the explanation from the Johor police chief (Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat), so much so that he himself shed tears.
“It reminds me of the case of the late ‘Baby Bala’ in 1990 which also led to the enactment of the Children Act 2001.
“As a mother and also a grandmother, I am not only calling, but appealing to all Malaysians, to be more sensitive and concerned about children’s safety. Every life is priceless,” said Raja Zarith Sofiah to the Royal Press Office in an interview published on The Royal Johor Facebook page tonight.
The queen consort to Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said this after granting an audience with Kamarul Zaman and was briefed on the development of the case at Istana Bukit Serene here today.
Also present at the meeting were Johor State Legal Adviser Datuk Amir Nasruddin and the Johor Women's League (JEWEL) president Thanam Visvanathan-Suresh to present views from a legal and non-governmental organisation’s (NGO) perspective.
Raja Zarith said she hopes that the child's death was not in vain, and will serve as a reminder to the community to be more sensitive in protecting that group.
“There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Children expect and need us members of the community to keep them safe.
“Let’s not act indifferent until there is prolonged abuse and loss of life.
“We all have an important role in society, which is to protect children from abuse. Our responsibilities are enormous,” said Raja Zarith Sofiah.
On Tuesday, it was reported that a four-year-old boy, under critical care in the Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) here, died after he succumbed to serious injuries believed to be from physical abuse and torture by five of his older sister’s friends at a house in Batu Pahat last Friday.
Initially, the case was investigated for child abuse under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which provides for a maximum fine of RM50,000 or 20 years imprisonment or both.
However, investigators have reclassified the case as murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code following the death of the victim.
Earlier, the Batu Pahat district police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigators managed to identify and arrest five suspects linked to the boy’s alleged abuse on Saturday. With the new developments, police will investigate the suspects under a murder probe.