SEREMBAN - A young boy, whose mother died about a year ago, has been living a nightmare - abused and forced to beg for money from neighbours.
Worse still for the seven-year-old, his suffering is at the hands of his own jobless father.
At an age where he should be in school, the boy, who is the middle child among three siblings, is kept at home and has often been physically abused by his father.
On Wednesday, the boy was again lashed by his father with a belt after he came home empty handed after being asked by the man to buy two sticks of clove cigarettes from a nearby shop.
And that could be the last time the man ever abuses his son - his latest cruelty brought police to his doorstep and he was arrested.
Seremban OCPD Asst Comm Muhd Zaki Harun said the man had told his son to buy two clove cigarettes from a nearby shop in Taman Jujur, Sikamat, but did not give him any money.
"When he came home without the cigarettes, the father got angry and started beating him with his hands.
"He then removed his belt and struck the boy several times," he said, adding that the father was also believed to have punched the boy's face and kicked him in the chest.
The man then chased the crying boy out of the house.
ACP Muhd Zaki said the boy ran to a neighbour's house and told him what had happened.
The neighbour, a 52-year-old security guard, then lodged a police report and the father was detained a few hours later.
ACP Muhd Zaki said investigations revealed that the man only picked on his middle son and never abused his first-born son and their three-year-old sister.
"The man also frequently ordered his middle son to ask neighbours for money to buy petrol for his motorcycle and to buy other things," he said.
The boy has been admitted at the Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital for treatment.
ACP Muhd Zaki said the man was being investigated for child abuse and could be jailed up to 10 years or a fine of up to RM20,000 (S$7,600), or both.
The man's two other children are being cared for by a neighbour and may be handed over to the welfare department later.
The father has been remanded until next Sunday.