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Published: Saturday August 14, 2010 MYT 1:07:00 PM
Updated: Saturday August 14, 2010 MYT 6:45:31 PM

Mixed reaction to classifying baby dumping as murder

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet's decision to classify baby dumping as murder was welcomed by two Muslim non-governmental organisations but a third has called for a study on the proposal.

The Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PGSM) and the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPMM) feel that the harsher penalty would curb baby dumping.

PGSM president Mohamad Isa Abd Ralip said the time had come for firmer action to prevent the negative behaviour from becoming widespread because such cases were serious and worrying.

"Even if an individual does not have the intention to commit murder, the act of dumping a baby and leaving it to die is tantamount to just that and, as such, the penalty is appropriate," he told Bernama.

On Thursday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the Cabinet had decided that the police should investigate as murder those cases of baby dumping where the infants die.

PPMM deputy president Muhamad Burok said the severe penalty would help reduce the number of baby-dumping cases but called for caution in its implementation.

"With the new penalty, baby dumping will become a serious case. There should be sufficient investigation and evidence as there will be greater pressure in terms of the burden of proof.

"For example, we have to verify whether the individual dumps a baby or a body.

“Usually, in such cases, the baby is born dead, and the individual decides to dump the body. In such cases, the individual cannot be charged for murder," he said.

However, the National Parent-Teacher Association Consultative Council feels that the proposal for the heavier penalty should be studied further.

Its president, Associate Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, said there was no guarantee that the death penalty would help curb baby dumping.

"The penalty for drug offences is heavy but people continue to be involved in drug trafficking," he said.

He said it would be preferable for preventive measures to be implemented in tandem with the harsher penalty.

Measures such as censoring Internet content, constant monitoring at massage parlours and control of the open sale of condoms should be considered seriously to check sexual activities, he said.

"It may not be possible to wipe out the menace completely but at least it could be prevented from becoming widespread," he added.

Meanwhile, DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh called on the government to set up a Royal Commission of Enquiry to look into the causes for the increase in cases of abandoned babies and recommend measures to deal with the situation which required immediate redress.

He said the rampant dumping of babies resulting in their deaths under cruel circumstances called for a deterrent punishment.

However, he said what was required was an in-depth study of the reasons which led to what had become a topic of grave concern.

Karpal said what needed to be looked into with the 'eye of a hawk' was not the symptom, but the cause before resorting to cries for the death penalty.

"The solution lies in the eradication of the cause. A Royal Commission is the answer," Karpal said in a statement. - Bernama

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