One Malaysian man recently drew the ire of netizens for leaving his toddler out in the cold — literally.
The toddler’s plight came to light on Oct 27 when a Facebook user, Awie Bkhori Abdul Halim, uploaded photos of the child begging alone on a street in Uptown Perda, Penang.
In the photos, the boy was placed in a stroller along the side of a road, with a plastic donation box in front of him. According to Awie, it was raining but the boy, who was barefooted, did not have any shelter or outerwear to keep him warm. The child’s parents were also nowhere to be seen.
A stallholder at the Perda City night market who appeared to know the child’s father wrote in Malay: “Not again… He says that he owes money to the loanshark and is not able to pay him back. He’s asking for donations. He’s paying back the loanshark RM38 (S$12) a day.”
According to a report by Oriental Daily News, the father, who remains unnamed, released an apology online yesterday and turned himself in to the police.
In his apology, the father said that he had not been able to set up his stall and do business as a result of the recent wet weather. He also admitted that he owed money to loansharks.
That night, he had intended to seek financial help at a mosque, but it was deserted. At his wits’ end, he resorted to begging with his two children.
Explaining that he had not left his child to beg alone, he wrote: “When I put down my son, the other child was crying, so I brought it to the car first. When I went back for him, the picture was already taken.”
“My wife did not know about it. It was my own rash decision to beg,” he added.
According to Malaysia’s Child Act, those convicted of exploiting children for the purposes of begging will face a maximum fine of RM20,000 and five years’ jail.