There should be a transparent and independent investigation into the shocking revelations of infants of stateless mothers in a Sabah hospital being forcibly taken away and given up for adoption against their will.
There should not be any compromise on this matter. An independent investigation is important to get to the bottom of this, and hold those responsible accountable, regardless of their position or standing.
While the Sabah Health Department did lodge a police report last Saturday (September 16, 2023), denying allegations that babies were being abducted from the state’s public hospitals, the timing of the report and the speed of the “internal investigation” (the report was made a day after the news was reported), have raised many questions and have cast doubts on the independence of such an internal investigation.
While I do not question the professionalism of many of the health workers within the Health Department, many doubts have been raised on the fairness of such an investigation, especially it implicates the Department.
This is why I welcome the health minister’s assertion in Parliament that there will not be a compromise on this matter, and that she is open to an independent investigation. She has even promised to personally look into the issue by talking to the staff members and patients involved.
Such an independent investigation must involve officers from relevant ministries, as it does not only involve the Ministry of Health (MOH). The possibility of this happening at other hospitals must also be looked into, especially if such cases involve undocumented patients.
We must prevent the possibility of a generation of stolen children in our hospitals across the country. No mother should have to go through the ordeal of being forcefully separated from their newborn child.
Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching and special advisor to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
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