There have been so many cases of abandoned babies that have just been born. I am not only sad but am sick to the stomach to think what some people are willing to do. I fail to understand and cannot fathom what they were thinking when they acted in such heinous conduct. Have they no pity for the child that the female partner carried for nine months? Have they not a single ounce of love for the baby created and given by god for both partners? Have they no sense of responsibility for the helpless baby that they conceived?
I can understand that the couple might not be married thus the fear, confusion and stigma attached to out of wedlock children and to the couple. I can also understand that some might do it because of financial problems. But whatever problems they might face, is it that bad that they are willing to murder a helpless baby? Or even abandon the child somewhere, leaving the baby suffering before eventually meeting his or her death?
Sometimes, if we are lucky enough, a kindred spirit would stumble upon the baby and the baby is saved. These babies will then be taken in by the Welfare Department under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. And in many cases these babies will get adopted by childless couples or families and go on to lead a wonderful life.
I would like to urge the Minister, YB Dato’ Seri Shahrizat to come up with an overall plan to overcome this sickening problem which seems to plague our community more and more. The plan must be extensive and must have elements using the carrot and stick method.
The plan should include:-
i. Educating the youths, single mothers and others on sex, pregnancy and so on which are extremely vital. We cannot depend on the old methods where the parents tell their children on the birds and bees stories anymore. On this matter, I urge the Ministry of Education to rethink its decision not to have sex education in schools. The teachers must also be brave enough to accept this change for the good of the community. This formal channel will provide a mass coverage and proper knowledge to the youths.
ii. To have “halfways homes” or transit points for the pregnant mothers to go to if the need arises. There should also be counselling, guidance and care made available for the pregnant mothers. Granted the ministry might already have a few homes but it is not well publicised.
iii. The Ministry should also reach out to the pregnant mothers by letting them know how and where they can go and leave their child instead of abandoning these babies to die. The formation of Skuad Sayang Wanita BN and Wanita UMNO to help the needy should be applauded but their scope should extend to help the pregnant mothers. For the fact that Skuad Sayang BN and UMNO are in all parliamentary constituencies in Malaysia means that they have extensive and on ground coverage.
iv. The Ministry can also have a dedicated Counselling Hotline to help the mothers and fathers.
If after all these assistance and help are well publicised and given, the couple still abandons their child, then:-
v. The Government should introduce heavy sentences to those found guilty of abandoning their babies, including charging them with murder or attempted murder. Or close to that.
It is also not only the female partner’s fault, but the authorities must also penalise the male partner. Only if they truly repent and seek guidance including taking back the baby, should the authorities even think of helping these people.
The community must also chip in and be ‘busy-bodies’ in the community. For all what the Government wants to do, it will not effective unless the community helps.
There were 407 cases of abandoned babies between 2005 and 2009. By now, the figure might already reach 430 – 450. Imagine how many lives were lost from that who could have been a great person contributing to the society and mankind in the future.
There are many couples out there who are childless or families with children who are looking to adopt babies. Don’t waste a life, but give a chance for the life you have created to live.
I pray to God no one that I know do this.
Ahmad Ikmal Ismail
(Naib Ketua UMNO Bahagian Jerai)