KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Little did a retiree realise that pregnant women exercising at 2am every night in a house opposite his in Kampung Nahkoda, Selayang were actually preparing to deliver babies to sell to a syndicate operating the place.
Abdul Razak Mahmud, 59, thought it unusual for such physical activity to be carried out in the middle of the night but did not give it further thought.
It was only when Welfare Department enforcement officers and police raided the centre on Monday and detained the 54-year-old mastermind and 21 women, did he realise that the syndicate been operating under the noses of villagers for two years.
“In the past there had been cases of child abuse reported at this centre but the fact that this was actually a place where babies were sold is shocking,” he said.
He was at home when the authorities raided the place and a branch in Rawang.
“My neighbours were stunned when they realised that the centre was a full-blown business involving selling and purchasing babies,’ said Abdul Razak who has lived in the quiet village all his life.
The authorities raided the centre following investigations by Harian Metro which alerted the authorities after a reporter disguised as an interested buyer found information on activities there.
On the pregnant women exercising in the compound of the house, he said they could have come out so late at night to prevent villagers from knowing about their presence.
Abdul Razak said the day-care centre began operations five years ago but had changed management two years ago.
Another villager, who only wanted to be known as Siti, said she had thought the pregnant women who were usually in the 20s were relatives of the woman running the centre.
“The woman was not a friendly person who would usually keep her distance from the villagers,” she added.
Villager Shamsul Suardi, 29, never suspected the centre behind his house to be used for such an activity.
“I grew up here all my life and never imagined that this village would one day be home to such monsters,’he added.
A Welfare Department spokesman said the women picked up in the raids were under its care.
“We have placed these mothers in a welfare home and will look after their needs,’ she said.