PETALING JAYA: Al Jazeera’s investigative reporting team has come up with a sensational documentary, going undercover over four months to expose a baby-selling racket in Malaysia.
The award-winning current affairs programme 101 East uncovered the sinister trade in Malaysia that revealed a network of traffickers, doctors and government officials, all profiting from the most vulnerable women and children.
“Malaysia: Babies for Sale” will be aired on the international TV network at 10.30pm in the UK (6.30am Friday in Malaysia).
According to a press release by Al Jazeera, the reporter who went undercover found that:
1) Babies are being traded like commodities in Malaysia;
2) Price is determined by race, skin colour, gender and weight;
3) Corrupt doctors and government officials are falsifying birth documents; and,
4) Critics blame Malaysia’s complex adoption laws for creating the underground market, targeting couples who can’t have their own child.
In her four-month investigation, 101 East journalist Chan Tau Chou discovered just how easy it is to buy a baby in Malaysia, where traffickers offer potential customers catalogues containing photos of pregnant women to choose from.
“Legal adoption can take years in Malaysia and it’s a complicated process,” Chan says.
“That is why many people turn to traffickers to buy babies. And then they pay doctors and government officials to falsify birth documents so that no one knows the baby is not theirs.”
The programme reveals the value of a baby is highest when it is a boy and he turns out to be fair.
Aside from gender and skin colour, most wannabe parents also factor in the ethnicity and weight of the child to determine the final price.
“You can choose your baby online,” child rights activist Hartini Zainudin told 101 East, adding: “It’s like a supermarket.”
The Al Jazeera team, posing as potential baby buyers, discovered that a trafficker in Malaysia, who advertises babies online, is housing 78 pregnant Indonesian women.
With babies priced between US$1,500 (RM6,600) and US$2,500 (RM11,000), this is a lucrative business. The trafficker offers a photo catalogue of pregnant women for potential buyers to choose from.
101 East’s team also goes undercover to gather video evidence of doctors who openly offer to help get falsified birth documents for babies who have been bought, with the help of officials working in the government’s National Registration Department (JPN).
The baby-selling syndicate is also drawing a lot of interest from sex workers who decide not to abort their baby should they get pregnant.
Many newborns end up with good parents — couples who really long for a child and are willing to break the law for one.
However, there may be other babies who may have been “bought” to be groomed for some paedophile ring or begging syndicate to exploit them.
“There are no proper checks on the buyers and whether they make good parents. The best interests of the child are never considered in such transactions,” Chan said on 101 East.
Al Jazeera will air repeats of the programme tomorrow (Friday Nov 25) at 5.30pm, Saturday (Nov 26) at 11.30am, Monday (Nov 28) at 12.30am, and on the same day again at 1.30pm.