JB police say 'kidnapping' of toddler was a misunderstanding
The case of a two-year-old toddler going missing is all a misunderstanding, according to the Johor police, Malaysia's New Straits Times reported yesterday.
Johor police chief Wan Ahmad Najmuddin said Angie Tiong is safe and is under the care of the Johor Baru Welfare office while police continue their investigation.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the father was unable to take care of the child, so a Good Samaritan offered to help," he said.
Angie was reported missing on Dec 10, a month after her father last saw her at a budget hotel in Taman Pelangi. Police had earlier arrested three suspects in relation to the case.
Mr Wan Ahmad said the toddler had been surrendered by a couple, who are Malaysians but are Permanent Residents of Singapore, on Sunday night.
"When the matter caught media attention, the couple came forward and handed Angie to police," he said.
The child's father, who was picked up for questioning by Johor police, has been released. Mr Wan Ahmad declined to give details, saying the matter was still under investigation.
"The toddler was just handed over to us last night," he said, adding that more will be revealed when investigations are completed.
Malaysian papers reported earlier that Angie's father had lodged a police report on Dec 10, saying his daughter had been kidnapped by a friend.
According to Malaysian media, he later admitted that he had "sold" her to a Singaporean couple for RM12,000 (S$4,000).
The case of the toddler also caught the attention of Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Chew Mei Fun who had called on the Johor Baru Welfare Office to carry out a probe on the matter, the New Straits Times reported.
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Angie, who now sports a crew cut, was all smiles in a recent photograph taken at a playground.
Johor Temple Foundation adviser Yap Yeen Min acted as a mediator between the couple and Angie's relatives, and was instrumental in the child's return. Mr Yap told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao yesterday that Angie's relatives shed tears of relief after they were shown videos and pictures of the child.
He said: "Angie's aunt was so overwhelmed that she couldn't speak for awhile."
Angie's relatives had previously told reporters they would fight for the custody of the girl.
Mr Yap said Angie had been living with her adoptive parents at their family home in Ipoh for the past month.
Their statements were recorded in Johor after they handed Angie to the police.
Mr Yap said Angie was a bubbly child who has been calling her adoptive parents "mum and dad".
He said they had to cut the girl's hair because she constantly scratched her head and refused to wash her hair when she was initially brought to the family.
- Additional reporting by Linette Heng