‘Treated like a pet’: Malaysian man accused of confining teen daughter to tiny market stall for nearly a year

‘Treated like a pet’: Malaysian man accused of confining teen daughter to tiny market stall for nearly a year

A Malaysian father is under investigation for making his teenage daughter sleep on the floor of a tiny market stall in Singapore.

The 63-year-old man, surnamed Tan, who is a permanent resident of the city state, had been selling vegetables at a market in Circuit Road – one of the Lion City’s oldest housing estates – for a decade.

He made his 15-year-old daughter live in one of the three stalls he rented at the wet market for 11 months, local news outlet Lianhe Zaobao reported.

A neighbouring stall owner, who had just moved his business there, said he smelled excrement coming from Tan’s stall, and reported it to the National Environment Agency.

The teen girl slept on a stained mattress and was not even allowed to go to school. Photo: 8world

On April 3, staff from the agency discovered the girl had been living in the six-square-metre space.

Crammed into the small area was a desk, fridge, fan and a makeshift dirty bed on the floor.

Two worn-out teddy bears on the bedding contributed to the sad sight.

Neighbours said the father and daughter had been living in the stall virtually day and night. They had never seen the girl go to school.

They said she did not leave the stall, even to wash or go to the toilet, and the gate was shut during the day as well as at night.

They noticed Tan was especially protective of his daughter, banning her from talking to other stall owners and rejecting offers of help.

“He did not beat or abuse her, but treated her like a pet,” a neighbour, surnamed Leong, said.

They said they used to have a home, but it was not known why they moved to the stall.

The environment agency reported the case to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which sent the girl to hospital for a check-up and treatment.

The stall is in a wet market in one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates. Photo: 8world

The police are investigating Tan for alleged child abuse.

Singaporean Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling told the Lianhe Zaobao newspaper on April 27 that the girl was fine.

Neighbours spotted Tan a few times after his daughter was hospitalised. He told them he would be taking her back to Malaysia.

The police probe into the father has yet to reach a conclusion.

Under the country’s Children and Young Persons Act, ill-treatment of a child aged 16 or younger can result in a fine of up to S$8,000 (US$5,900) and a maximum jail term of eight years.



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