Fatimah promises complete anonymity for baby hatch users

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Fatimah fields questions from reporters at the press conference. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (April 2): Parents who place their newborns in baby hatch facilities will have complete anonymity, said Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

The Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister stressed the parents are not required to come forward and present themselves when using the facility.

She pointed out the area around baby hatches are not covered by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to ensure privacy.

“Baby hatch is a support system, initially under our One-Stop Teenage Pregnancy Committee where we want teenage mothers not to abandon their newborns at the roadside that could put them at risk.

“We want to ensure we can save the child and save the parents – hence, the baby hatch was established. As we all know, most of these parents consist of teenage mothers who get pregnant out of wedlock and without the knowledge of their parents.

“The baby hatches provide a safe environment for the newborns, and anonymity to the biological parents. They don’t need to present themselves,” she told a press conference in Petra Jaya here today.

She said Borneo Medical Centre and KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital currently provide baby hatch facilities.

She also assured that no legal action would be taken against parents who placed their newborns in the baby hatches, adding that the babies would receive good care from staff members of the medical facilities.

Fatimah explained the newborns would then be taken to Sarawak General Hospital for observation and monitoring, before being handed over to appointed guardians.

“We have to get the court order first to become the newborn’s guardian, and we need to register the child at the National Registration Department,” she added.

However, she pointed out that due to insufficient background information such as the names of the newborn’s biological parents during registration, the newborn’s citizenship status will be classified as ‘not determined’ or stateless.

“Our role is then to apply for the child’s citizenship since the child is under our care, and the process to do this takes time. There are parents out there who are interested in adopting the child, so the burden to apply for citizenship for the child will lie on them.

“I took the risk the other day when I approached a biological mother of a child and gave her my personal contact number if she needs help in getting citizenship for her child. She eventually contacted and came directly to me and said she wanted her child not to become a stateless child.

“Rest assured, the anonymity of the mother is maintained,” she added.