PETALING JAYA: Various parties have condemned the month-long detention of a Malaysian couple in Sweden and their separation from their children after their young son was allegedly hit on the hand.
Women, Welfare and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Karim said the ministry was ready to send Welfare Department officers to Sweden to meet their counterparts there to ensure the children were well taken care of.
MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said while Swedish law should be respected with the need for the authorities to protect the children’s safety, it was hard to accept that a family was forcibly separated over what could be considered a minor physical punishment.
“We urge the Government to seek an appropriate conduit to bail out the childrens’ parents and for Sweden to conduct the trial as soon as possible,” she said yesterday.
Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman of the Barisan Nasional said while Sweden’s tough laws against child abuse are acknowledged, the procedures with regard to investigations, detention and denial of access by family members was uncalled for.
“Sweden is tough on child abuse and that is commendable. However, they must understand the difference between abuse and teaching a lesson,” he said.
Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said that the extended period of detention without being charged or sentenced goes against universal human rights.
Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng said a month-long detention without being charged shouldn’t have happened.
Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa of PAS said that the couple should be charged as soon as possible if they had committed an offence as alleged.
“The issue of Sweden being against child spanking is one question. However, the detention and separation of the children from their parents is another question altogether.
“To me, this itself is a form of abuse,” he said.
Padang Serai MP N. Surendran of PKR described the action against the couple as “disproportionate and extreme”.
“This was not a case of abusive parents and the punishment made by the couple was not serious,” said Surendran, who is a lawyer and human rights activist.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its embassy in Stockholm had been working with Swedish authorities to ensure the rights of the couple were safeguarded.