Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toddler’s drowning triggers probe - Unlicensed childcare centre ordered to stop operations

Zero activity: The nursery where Xing Rou (inset) was found dead was not open yesterday.

The Penang Welfare Department has ordered the immediate closure of the nursery in Paya Terubong where a toddler was found dead in a baby bathtub.

Department director Zulkifli Ismail said Strawberry Childcare Centre would stay closed indefinitely pending investigations.

“We have advised the nursery to inform parents to stop sending their children there for now,” he said.

Stella Chew Xing Rou, who would have turned two on June 23, was found drowned in a tub in a bathroom at about 1pm on Monday.

A teacher found her lying face down in the tub filled with water when she searched for her after she went missing from the group of children under her supervision.

Xing Rou's father Chew Hock Huat, a 40-year-old sales promoter, said he had planned to celebrate her birthday at their home in Relau.

“She was our only child after eight years of marriage. She had just learnt to call us Papa' and Mama',” said Chew, who sobbed uncontrollably at the Penang Hospital mortuary yesterday.

Heng Bee Thin, 38, said she began sending her daughter to the nursery about two months ago when she started work as a sales promoter.

It was a heart-wrenching scene at the Batu Gantong crematorium when the couple cried and were hugged by more than 20 family members and relatives just before Xing Rou's cremation.

Earlier, the couple placed Xing Rou's colouring books, soft toys and bags in her coffin.

Chew said he was considering legal action against the nursery.

Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said initial investigations showed that the nursery did not have a licence from the Penang Municipal Council and was not registered with the state Welfare Department.

He said the nursery, which had been in operation for a few years, had applied for a licence last year but failed to meet certain requirements of the council.

An unlicensed childcare centre here has been ordered to stop its operations following the death of a two-year-old child at the centre yesterday.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environmental Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said a letter ordering the centre located in Paya Terubong to stop its operations had been handed to its owner.

"Our initial investigation found that the centre did not have a licence to set up the facility and a permit to run it," he said when contacted by Bernama today.

He said all day-care centres, kindergartens and nurseries should apply for a permit and licence from the Social Welfare Department, Education Department or local authorities.

"The Social Welfare Department is still investigating the centre and a full report will be ready by the end of this week," he said.

It is understood that the centre has been operating for more than 10 years at a rented two-storey terraced house.

In the incident, Stella Chew Xing Rou was found drowned inside a basin in a bathroom about 1pm after lunch while the other children were watching television.

Meanwhile, Timur Laut police deputy chief Supt Abdul Halim Bulat said the post-mortem report from Penang Hospital confirmed that the child's death was due to drowning.

He said police had recorded statements from the child's mother, Heng Bee Thin, 38, and staff of the centre. No arrest has been made.

The case is being investigated under Section 31 of the Child Act, which carries a fine of up to RM20,000 or a jail term of not more than 10 years, or both.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Latest Malaysia News