BUKIT MERTAJAM: A former secretary of a home in Bukit Tengah here that is being investigated over allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children under its care has backed the claims.
Tony Ooi Yoo Peng, 43, said claims made by a woman whose seven children and two grandchildren were residents at the centre, through a police report on Saturday, were all true.
“Yes, the children were abused and the operations of the home leave much to be desired.
“Babies were traded there and when I raised the matter they threatened me instead. I had lodged two police reports but no action was taken.
“The owner of the home offered me and three other men RM5,000 each to keep quiet on the matter, but I turned down the offer,” Ooi claimed at a press conference here yesterday.
At the same press conference, the 14-year-old boy who made the bold move to expose the activities at the home, said he was willing to do anything to save his siblings from further abuse at the home.
He had scaled the tall fences surrounding the home before the Hari Raya holiday, begged for money to buy bus tickets to Johor Baru to find his mother and wandered the street in the city for five days before he found her and told her about the ordeals he and his siblings went through at the home.
His 45-year-old mother did not waste much time when she heard that her children and grandchildren were victims of abuse and lodged a police report.
Central Seberang Prai deputy OCPD Supt Mohd Mustafa Bidin said the case was being investigated under Section 323 and Section 354 of the Penal Code for outrage of modesty and voluntarily causing hurt.
The boy said he had to act as he could not bear seeing his brothers, sisters and two nephews being mistreated, beaten and sexually abused.
“My 17-year-old sister was sexually abused. I had to tell my mother because I didn’t know who else to turn to,” he said.
The Form Two student also blamed the home’s caretakers for the death of one of his sisters last year.
He said his sister who was 17 then, had fallen down the stairs and hit the back of her head, but nobody sent her to hospital.
He said she was only taken to a clinic when she began vomiting three months later.
“My sister told me there was a blood clot in her head and that her blood pressure was low.
“One night during a prayer ritual, the people slapped my sister’s back as part of the ritual and she fell unconscious.
“When she didn’t wake up, she was taken to hospital and she died not long after,” the teenager claimed.
He fled the home on June 25, walked to Berapit, 5km away where he begged for money, and headed south on June 26.
Following the mother’s report, police arrived at the centre at about 9pm and took away the eight remaining children – six of her children and her two grandsons.
The woman said her husband died four years ago and she had to send all the children staying with her to the home as she could not support them.
When contacted yesterday, Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the home was not registered with the Welfare Department.
“For now the children will be brought to hospital for medical check-up while we discuss with the family where to temporarily house them,” said Phee.
The home representatives declined to comment but one of the volunteers denied the allegations.