MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS – TODAY WE ARE ALL MOHAMAD THAQIF MOHD GADDAFI’S PARENTS!

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Datuk Seri Dr Jacob George 1

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TODAY WE ARE ALL MOHAMAD THAQIF MOHD GADDAFI’S PARENTS!

Yes, we are all Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi Parents!

Words cannot describe the sadness and hurt like hundreds of thousands of Malaysians, I too feel!

It is tragic that 11 year old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi is no more with us in Malaysia!

There are so many questions that need answers and investigations done without fear, favor, in transparency, accountability and following a strict compliance protocol end to end!

Like others, I cannot but cry out that this form of heinous crime and tragedy must never happen again in Malaysia!

I dread to imagine what pain, suffering, anguish and scars this 11-year-old student, underwent, whose legs were amputated due to alleged physical abuse by an assistant warden at a religious school in Johor Baru!

Like others, I pray for the ALMIGHTYS healing and blessings upon his father, Mohd Gaddafi Mat Karim, 43, at the premature loss of his son!

I have always believed, that as parents we should never outlive our children as that will be a rather traumatic experience.

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I am very certain that the Malaysian Police, led by the no nonsense tolerating professional IGP, with the assistance of our medical experts from the MOH, will get to the bottom of this tragedy leaving no room for speculation, defamation, or truth to be swept under the carpet!

A crime has been committed!

A life has been lost!

There must be justice!

The truth must prevail and if there is foul play, then the wheels of justice must turn speedily, that justice is done and leaves a message in the public interest, that sends a warning to others who have a duty of care to watch over our children.

This child who was in a comatose state, had his legs amputated after the blood cells and tissues were destroyed by bacterial infection.

His right hand had also turned black due to the same infection while blood clots appeared on his left shoulder.

What is sad is that this child, had in his diary, reportedly detailed his suffering at the school and prayed his parents would allow him to transfer from the religious school.

It never happened!

Worst, in employment in the school as the school assistant warden, was one who was a convicted felon who served 15 months in jail for theft, who is the epicenter of this investigation!

It must not end with him as the administration and others in the system must also be made accountable!

There is no time for spin, for pretense, for hypocrisy or pussy footing on what is expected that needs to be initiated in all schools in Malaysia.

Schools must play an essential role in protecting children from abuse.

Those who are employed at schools must have close, regular contact with children and young people.

They must be individuals who have the academic and track record and love children to:

1. identify child protection concerns early

2. provide help and support

3. help children understand how to stay safe from abuse

4. And when a situation arises not to cover up but refer a child to relevant agencies

We cannot and should not pretend to be puritans!

Schools have a statutory duty to protect children in their care.

They must have a child protection policy, child protection procedures, a designated lead for child protection – both on the board of trustees and in the senior management team and safe recruitment processes.

The school environment must be a safe place for children.

And schools must ensure that adults who work in the school, including volunteers, do not pose a risk to children, directly or indirectly!

There should be comprehensive background checks done before someone is employed therein. Which includes with the Police, who are always ready and willing to help assist!

Staff should receive training how to identify and respond to child protection concerns.

All schools should create a whole school ethos that makes it clear to children that if they have a problem, however big or small, they can talk to a member of staff. Ways to do this can include:
1. displaying posters signposting children to services that might be able to help them if they are worried.

2. Using ‘Feedbacks/Worry boxes’ – which are either placed inside the classroom or around the building. If a child is feeling unsure about approaching an adult this can be a good way for them to share their worries.

3. Having visiting child safety advocates provides an environment to encouraging children to post questions and help third parties identify issues that may be worrying a child.

4. Peer mentoring – where children may be more likely to disclose abuse to a friend or peer. If a school has a peer mentoring scheme in operation, mentors will need to be taught how to respond and be aware of the importance of passing concerns to an adult as soon as possible.

In many circumstances in Malaysia, we have a situation where we have failed to assure our children that when they disclose abuse or other needs, they will be believed, and that those teaching will demonstrate time and patience to understand and help the child to understand that disclosure is a process rather than a one off event.

That those who drive this will with honesty and clarity share the process and uphold confidentiality and gain the children’s trust!

That we are committed and dedicated to support and intervene to help those who suffer to recover.

It is also pertinent that school boards and administration make certain that all of them, must have entrenched a child protection protocol and procedures if a child discloses that they, or another child, has been abused.

If there is an attempt by the board or the administration to cover up, there should be a process that will facilitate whistle blowing to the relevant authorities!

This is why, I have always encouraged school policymakers to have multi-agency meetings with education policymakers, healthcare and child protection advocates and the Police!

It is now all our prayer that by this very tragic death, a way would be found, a process put forward in our schools and places of instruction that protects the rights, interests and safety of children!

Malaysia cannot afford another – Mohamad Thaqif Mohd Gaddafi!

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