Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Tangkak, Johore on Wednesday, 22nd June 1994 at 12 noon
Call on Government to declare a ‘three-month amnesty’ for all parents who had illegally adopted babies to report to the authorities and for the adoption to be legalized
The Government should declare a ‘three-month amnesty’ for all parents who had illegally adopted foreign babies to report to the authorities and for the adoption to be legalised.
The government should give an assurance that those who availed themselves of this amnesty would be given consideration -that action would not be taken against them and that the babies would not be taken away from their ‘adoptive homes’ and placed under police custody.
The problem of illegal adoption of babies came to national light following the police busting of a racket involving the smuggling of male babies from Thailand. To date, police have taken custody of five foreign babies in Tangkak and another six in Segamat.
The newspapers have reported the heartrending accounts of the anguish and suffering of the ‘adoptive’ parents when these babies had been taken away from their Tangkak and Segamat homes, where they had been the centre of love and care for 18 to 24 months. All Malaysians are touched by such heartrending accounts and believe that there must be a humanitarian way to deal with this problem, but in the best interests of the babies as well as their ‘adoptive’ parents.
As the government advocates ‘a caring society’, the Government should give special consideration to the ‘adoptive’ parents, who must not be treated as ‘criminals’ although they had committed an offence in illegally adopting babies.
Many of them had used their life-savings to buy a baby, from RM10,000 to RM14,000, not because they want to be a criminals, but because of their ignorance of the law and their eagerness to have a child for those who are childless, or to have someone to keep company in old age. They were led to believe the assurance of the agents in the babies syndicate that all would be within the law.
The full rigours of the law must be applied against those responsible for the foreign babies-for-sale racket, whether those responsible for smuggling the foreign babies into the country or their agents, for they committed these offences for money and profit.
In the case of the ‘adoptive parents’, although they had also transgressed against the law, they did not do it for any heinous objective as for monetary gain but because they want to give their love and care to a baby they could adopt as their own.
For this reason, the government should give every consideration and sympathy to the ‘adoptive’ parents who suffer grievously and are in trauma with the separation of the babies, who have been sent to the Kuantan orphanage.
I am sure no one would dispute that fact that the separation of the babies from their ‘adoptive’ parents and homes cannot be in the best interest of the babies for this is not a case of domestic violence but a case of domestic love and care.
Going strictly by the law, the ‘adoptive parents’ would have no right whatsoever over the babies, and it might be dubious as to whether there could be any legal remedy even for temporary custody.
However, policy consideration must prevail over the law in this case and the government must recognise that the ‘adoptive parents’ should not tae penalised, because of their eagerness to have a baby and their ignorance of the law.
In the interests of the babies and the ‘adoptive parents’, the Government should adopt a policy position which will allow the ‘adoptive parents’ from Tangkak and Segamat to have immediate custody of the babies now sent to Kuantan orphanage. The parents should be required to give surety to the police on the custody of the babies as a condition for the immediate return of the babies to their ‘adoptive’ homes.
There should be no objection to such an arrangement, for I am sure none of the ‘adoptive parents’ would uproot their family and abandon their jobs so as to abscond with the baby. This will also relieve the Kuantan orphanage of the burden and responsibility of looking after the babies.
The Director-General of Welfare Department, Mohamed Hussein, has urged parents to follow proper procedures when adopting babies.
Mohamed Hussein is right, but there is an urgent need to simplify and shorten adoption procedures which at present are most complicated, vexatious and time-consuming -making it an impossible ordeal to ordinary Malaysians unversed in the law.