Right under our noses and behind the eyes of the mass public, an illegal ring of baby trafficking comes to light.
Safe to say, it’s left the country shaken.
On November 24, our nation was given an abrupt wake up call when Al Jazeera aired a documentary done by award-winning current affairs programme 101 East.
The whole process was filmed over a total of four months where the team went undercover in order to reveal the ins-and-outs of baby-selling racket in Malaysia.
The footage revealed a whole chain of traffickers, government officials and doctors openly explaining the entire process that goes behind this.
“It’s a huge problem. Baby selling has been ongoing in Malaysia for a while. Babies are brought in from countries like Thailand and Cambodia and then exported to other places such as Singapore, etc,” said Child Activist Hartini Zainudin in the interview section of the documentary.
She then went on to tell the story of how she accidentally got herself involved in this baby-selling ordeal 8 years ago, the day that she also added another member into her family.
It all started when traffickers had called her after they had failed to sell a baby to a Malaysian couple.
Thinking they were going to pass the baby to her with no charges, she ended up getting into the car with them but after exchanging a few sentences, it dawned on her that she was caught in a serious problem.
After the traffickers informed her that they would be selling off the baby to Thailand for the purpose of begging, Hartini made the decision to save the baby and named her Zara.
Unfortunately it took a total of 8 years before she could legally call herself Zara’s parent due to the strict legal procedures that goes behind adoption operations in Malaysia.
But even until now, Zara has no legal status due to her not registering as a Malaysian citizen at birth.
“It took me 5 years to get her birth certificate, it took me another 3 years to put in her application for citizenship and I’m still waiting,” said Hartini when describing the long, expensive and emotionally draining process that goes behind adopting in our country.
This essentially means that Zara has no access to public health and education, no rights to apply for a passport, no bank account and no rights to get married. She basically has no status whatsoever.
It is this exact reason that young couples with no capabilities to bear children of their own resort to this illegal ring of baby selling.
Critics have accused Malaysia’s complex adoption laws for giving birth to an underground market that feeds off vulnerable women and children in order to cater to the couples who are willing to pay a hefty price if it means getting a baby in their arms faster.
Various advertisements and social media groups can even be found online of people posting pictures of babies ready to be sold. One person named ‘Bonda’ was found to be a rather influential in this scene where numerous couples have gone to her in order to buy a baby.
In the video, ‘Bonda’ was shown to have admitted that she houses 78 pregnant Indonesian women for her customers to choose from. Just like a catalogue of furniture.
The price of a baby can range from RM6,000 to RM20,000 depending on a few factors such as their race, gender and skin colour.
According to Hartini, a fair baby boy can cost higher compared to a dark-skinned baby girl.
Other means of getting babies were also shown. Pimps who handle sex workers are able to offer couples the babies from their group of ladies who got pregnant.
Some of these sex workers even willingly contact couples themselves as it as a law that immigrant workers are not allowed to bear children in the country.
The 101 East team delved deeper in their cover to gather video evidence of a doctors openly offering to help obtain falsified birth documents for any baby that’s been bought from them.
This is done with the help of government officials working in the National Registration Department (JPN).
“You don’t have to be nervous because we do this on a very regular basis. I think that’s how the word of mouth spread that we actually do BC’s (Birth Certificates),” said one of the doctors from a clinic known to regularly help couples to buy babies.
Another doctor added, “In Malaysia, can do everything. Money can do anything. Malaysia’s the 2nd most corrupted [country].”
This shocking admission just further exemplifies the corruption level that happens within our own officials.
Though most may hope for these newborns to end up with good parents who long for a child so much that they’re willing to break the law for one, it can’t be ignored that there may be buyers who purchase these babies for the intention of pedophilia or begging syndicates that are still running rampant in most countries.
“For me, the anger is on our own Malaysians. Our own state. Our own authorities. This is all because of that ‘I don’t care’ attitude.
What happens to a young child who’s begging in the streets or a child who is being sold, you don’t care because you don’t want to see and you don’t want to hear. That makes it better for the traffickers,” said Aegile Fernandez to the 101 East team, an anti-trafficking activist.
This documentary may be seen basically as a message of how corruption runs so deep in our society that some can see it as a norm, which is a massive problem.
But if you see it from the other side of the coin, it is these complex adoption laws set by our government that corner these couples into resorting to the illegal option.
Questions regarding the babies also arise.
Which is better, saving babies from being dumped in drains by selling them to willing couples or foregoing a baby’s right and determining their future for them by giving them away through illegal means?
You’ll have to find an answer for yourself.
The full documentary can be seen below.
Feature Image Credit: scmp.com