JOHOR BARU - Police are probing shocking reports of sexual and physical abuse at a childcare centre in Taman Abad here which was registered as a kindergarten but has been operating as a hostel.
The centre's discipline teacher, an African man in his 40s, is alleged to have sexually abused the girls aged between four and seven years old.
Two of the older boys in the home, both aged 14, are also alleged to have sexually abused the younger children.
M. Letchumy, 39, who quit as an assistant in the centre recently after working there since November last year, said the "discipline teacher" took advantage of the girls whenever he came in during lunchtime.
"He would take the girls aside, kiss them on the lips and cheeks and molest them," she said, adding that she lodged a police report on Feb 28.
She said she noticed something amiss with the girls in December and approached them but they refused to tell her what was wrong.
"They only opened up after repeated assurances that they will not be punished.
"Some of them told their parents that the teacher had kissed them on their faces and chest and touched their private parts which then became red and swollen," she added.
Letchumy claimed that two 14-year-old boys of the home had also been forcing the younger children to perform oral sex on them.
A seven-year-old boy, who had stayed in the home previously, said that he was made to perform sexual acts for his so-called "elder brothers".
"The abuses were frequent. They would wake me up in the middle of the night and even carry me to their bed and force me to perform the acts.
"At first, I was scared and refused but they threatened to tell the teacher and warned that I will be caned," he said.
His biological brother, aged 11, who had also stayed at the home, said the two boys also made the younger boys and girls perform the acts.
"One night, I saw one of them carrying my brother to his bed. They were covered with a blanket. When I told the teacher the next day, I was asked to keep quiet, otherwise I would be punished," he said.
According to Letchumy, the parents of most of the children worked in Singapore and only came to visit them during weekends.
She said the parents paid an average of RM600 (S$232) per child to the centre, which was registered as a kindergarten.
Johor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said three investigation papers had been opened in the probe into the case.
"The reports are being investigated under Section 31 (1) of the Child Act, 2001. We will give utmost priority to anything that involved the welfare and care of children," he said.