Welfare home, accused of locking up residents in cages, denies wrongdoing

Johor state Women, Family, Social Welfare exco chairman Datuk Rusnah Kassim (right) listening to explanations from R. Sivalingam, the chairman of Batu Gajah Disabled Children’s Welfare Home (left), during her visit on October 24, 2016. — Bernama pic
Johor state Women, Family, Social Welfare exco chairman Datuk Rusnah Kassim (right) listening to explanations from R. Sivalingam, the chairman of Batu Gajah Disabled Children’s Welfare Home (left), during her visit on October 24, 2016. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — A home for the disabled in Batu Gajah has been accused of caging up its residents ‘like animals’ after images of the enclosures at the home went viral after a Facebook user shared them online, reported NST Online.

In her posting, the woman reportedly claimed that she saw enclosures with metal swing doors, each housing a child inside when she went to the home with her family to visit her aunt, who was a resident there.

She claimed some enclosures even had two children inside and each enclosure had only one shower and one toilet.

Harian Metro reported that Batu Gajah Disabled Children’s Welfare Home chairman R. Sivalingam explained the residents were placed in the enclosures for their own safety, as they were severely mentally-challenged and could turn aggressive.

“This isn’t abuse, but a safety measure. The person who had distributed the images may not have obtained the full picture of the situation,” he was quoted as saying.

Sivalingam explained to NST Online that a misunderstanding arose after he had asked the sister of one of the residents for a donation.

“I had asked the sister to sponsor a stall for a food fair to be held on Nov 27 and she was unhappy about it. She suddenly came up with this story about the children being abused,” he reportedly said.

Sivalingam said the home had been in operation since 1968 and operated on public support. He said there had been no problem so far and the mentally-ill residents were only placed in the enclosures during mealtimes so as not to inconvenience the other residents.

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