William Yau is dead.
He was the 6-year old boy who went missing on January
16. He was left in the car, together with his 7-year old brother and year-old
sister, when their parents went into an electrical store to look at washing
When the parents returned to the car 15 minutes
later, he was gone. According to the police, William’s father was informed by
his eldest brother than William had gone looking for them because their sister
had started crying.
Police fished out his decomposed body out of Sungei
Sireh in Klang, nine days after he was reported missing. His parents identified
I cannot help ask this question: Why, oh why did his
parents leave the children in the car without any adult supervision? Why couldn’t
they bring the children into the electrical store with them?
It is the same sad story all over again.
It was six years ago, the year William was born, that
the country was shocked over the death of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. She went missing after she went alone to the pasar malam near her house. Police
found her battered body in a bag.
There was another case last year of five-year old
Nurul Nadirah Abdullah or Dirang who went to a grocery shop near her house to
buy instant noodles and eggs. She was burnt to death.
These are sure cases of negligence.
In William’s case, it was a mere 15 minutes that the
parents left the children in the car. That 15-minute duration may deem short to
adults but for a six year old boy, with a crying sister in the car, could be
too much of a wait.
Never mind that we don’t have an official lower age
limit where a child can be left alone unlike in some states in the US or the UK
but parents here can be prosecuted under some laws if their actions are
subsequently deemed “irresponsible.”
Chapter Three of the Child Act 2001 covers offences
in relation to the health and welfare of children. The Act covers any child
under the age of 18 years.
Section 33 of the said Act states, “Any person who,
being a parent or a guardian or a person for the time being having the care of
a child, leaves that child (a) without making reasonable provision for the
supervision and care of the child; (b) for a period which is unreasonable
having regard to all the circumstances; or (c) under conditions which are
unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances, commits an offence and
shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or
to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.”
I am also told there are provisions in the Penal Code
on criminal negligence.
Most times, parents are let off without any charges
brought onto them on compassionate grounds.
In Nurin’s case, then Inspector-General of Police Tan
Sri Musa Hassan suggested to investigate her parents on negligence. That had
provoked public outcry, with some saying that it was unfair to charge the
parents as they had gone through enough of the ordeal of losing their child.
Similarly, no action was also taken against Dirang’s
mother, who allowed the five year old to go to the grocery shop alone.
Another child is dead.
How many more need to lose their lives before any
action is taken.