Singapore

Why didn't anyone protect Daniel from abuse?

One toddler was killed and another seriously injured by those who were meant to protect them at Block 19, Telok Blangah Crescent.

Daniel was two years old and a brave boy.

Even as he was slapped, stomped on, pinched and abused repeatedly by his own mother and her boyfriend, he did not cry.

And neighbours had little clue Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser was being abused.

On Nov 23, 2015, Daniel's little body, peppered with marks and injuries he had sustained from a prolonged period of torture, gave up.

And even though he died, his caregiver, the woman he called Mak (mother in Malay) showed no remorse in court.

Cleaners Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend, Zaini Jamari, 46, were found guilty after a trial and will be sentenced on July 5. 

One woman tried to help little Daniel and is now filled with regret.

Ms Puspawati Abdul Razat, 51, is wheelchair-bound after a stroke she suffered four years ago.

She regarded Daniel as her grandson, and he would call her "nenek" (grandmother in Malay).

Daniel and his family lived with her, cramped into a one-room rental flat on the sixth storey. Ms Puspawati's teenage niece also lived there.

Inside the flat where Daniel lived. TNP PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

She tells The New Paper on Sunday that she tried to help protect Daniel from the savagery he suffered, but she was afraid.

Her immobility also prevented her from calling for help sooner.

"I tried to help him countless times, but I couldn't get up or go to a private place to call the police."

"I even fell while trying to protect Daniel once," she says.

Ms Puspawati says she would plead for them to stop hitting him but her cries fell on deaf ears.

"I would tell them enough is enough, if they hit him any more he would die," she says.

Although her niece was hardly at home, Ms Puspawati says she, too, begged for the torture to stop and even volunteered to take him out to play.

They were told to mind their own business.

Daniel's mother and her boyfriend were always around, and Ms Puspawati had little opportunity to call for help during the 20 days of hell Daniel endured.

"Even when Daniel was unconscious, his mother was reluctant to call for help. I had to fight to call the ambulance," she says.

RECONNECTED

Ms Puspawati says she first met Daniel's mother 20 years ago through a friend.

They did not stay in touch but two years ago, she reconnected with Zaidah, who was working as a cleaner in an industrial building in Ubi Road.

According to Ms Puspawati, Zaidah was staying in a cramped storeroom that could barely fit her. There was nowhere to cook, and Zaidah lived there alone.

At that time, she was pregnant with Daniel. Ms Puspawati took pity on her and offered to let Zaidah stay with her in the flat she was sharing with another adult tenant.

Ms Puspawati says her flat is now too quiet.

"I look outside my window, and sometimes I see children running or I hear them playing downstairs.

"Daniel could have been one of them," she says.

SECRET

Block 19, Telok Blangah Crescent, hides a terrible secret.

Daniel is the second child to be repeatedly abused by his caregivers.

Three years earlier, almost to the date Daniel died, a four-year-old girl was punched and kicked over a one-month period because she had defecated on a mattress.

Festive lights hang outside the house where Daniel lived. TNP PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

After Fiona's (not her real name) accident on the bed, the mother's boyfriend, Mohammad Rudy Madon, then 37, grabbed some of the faeces and smeared it all over the little girl's face - causing her to even eat some of her own waste.

Although her mother intervened and took the girl to the bathroom, Mohammad Rudy did not stop.

Fuelled by his rage, he punched and stepped on the girl's right thigh several times, fracturing her bone.

Like Daniel, little Fiona hobbled around bravely at home for a month despite her injuries.

Mohammad Rudy pleaded guilty on Oct 1, 2013, to one count of ill-treating the girl, two counts of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to her and three drug-related charges.

He was jailed four years and given four strokes of the cane.

Mohammad Rudy will be out soon and given another chance.

Not little Daniel. Not Fiona.

Deathchild abuseSingaporemotherToddlerTortureMurder