Call to probe baby-in-bag case

KUALA TERENGGANU, Malaysia - The Terengganu Government has ordered an investigation into the "baby-in-schoolbag" incident, which has also triggered calls for a baby hatch to be set up to save abandoned newborns.

State Education and Higher Education Committee chairman Razif Abdul Rahman wants the state education department to thoroughly investigate how a 16-year-old schoolgirl here was able to keep her pregnancy a secret and then gave birth in a hostel without anyone noticing.

"If the girl had been detected earlier, there might have been a chance of saving the baby," he said when interviewed by The Star yesterday.

The girl had reportedly given birth to the baby at her school hostel at about 1am on Tuesday. She stuffed the baby in a bag and handed it to a classmate who unknowingly carried the dead infant for 17 hours.

Doctors found out about the birth after the young mother sought medical treatment at the Sultanah NurZahirah Hospital for abdominal pains.

Razif agreed that having a baby hatch could help to save abandoned babies

"The move must not be misconstrued as encouraging sexual relations or having babies out of wedlock but as a move to save babies," he said.

State welfare department director Zuhaimi Omar said it was prepared to work with NGOs to set up a baby hatch.

"The state does not have a baby hatch yet but it is high time we do," he said.

Terengganu MCA Wanita chief See Meng Geok welcomed the setting up of a baby hatch, saying it could save countless little lives.

See also called for more efforts to educate and counsel young girls, especially those who are sexually active.

Meanwhile, state police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Jamshah Mustafa said police were tracking down a man, believed to be in his 20s, suspected of making the girl pregnant.

In MALACCA, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said school authorities should monitor schoolgirls of any unusual physical changes, including signs of pregnancy.

"Schools have the responsibility to monitor if any of their female students suddenly gain weight or show signs of being pregnant," he told reporters after opening the newly relocated SJK (C) Pay Fong 1 at Taman Krubong Jaya yesterday.

"This is an upsetting case. We want to know what happened to the schoolgirl in the past several months,'' he said, adding that a complete report was expected by next week.

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