KOTA BARU - Police will check whether the mother of the five-year-old girl, who was severely abused, had neglected her child.
"The mother is not a suspect yet although she has told the media that the last time she met her daughter was on Hari Raya last year.
"Furthermore, she stays in Pasir Mas. And the daughter lives with her father in Rantau Panjang, a mere 20km away.
"Although the suspects have been arrested, we will soon interview the child's mother to make it a complete investigation as it has now become a matter of national interest," Pasir Mas police chief Asst Comm Haliludin Rahim said yesterday.
The girl's biological mother Sana Abdul Malik, 28, had said that she discovered scars on her daughter after the stepmother acknowledged that she could no longer take care of the child.
Sana lodged a police report after seeing welts, cuts and bruises on her daughter's body.
Her ex-husband, 39, and his 25-year-old wife were arrested on Sunday as the prime suspects.
The Thai Muslim woman had told the media that she had to surrender her child to her husband when they divorced in 2013.
Sana had reportedly said that she found marriage with the man, also a Thai Muslim, to be unbearable.
The girl is now being housed at the Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II.
Doctors found 13 broken bones on her spinal cord, hips, ribs, arms and thighs.
Yesterday, Bernama quoted the girl's aunt as saying that the child's condition had shown improvement.
"The girl talked about wanting to eat, going sight-seeing and wanting to meet her cousins.
"But she still cannot eat following an intestinal surgery," her aunt told reporters. The girl is said to be recovering well after the surgery.