JOHOR BARU - The family of a Malaysian toddler, who is suspected to have been sold by her father, waited for her at a police station for hours on Thursday (Dec 31) but the reunion they hoped for never happened.
Two-year-old Angie Tiong was reportedly "adopted" by a childless couple from Singapore, Malaysian newspaper China Press wrote on Thursday.
Angie's aunt Tiong Mei Ling, 36, a hawker stall helper in Singapore, and uncle Luo Jie Cheng, 49, a furniture worker, said they will ask the Singaporean couple to return the girl.
The Star reported Ms Tiong as saying that her family will return money to the couple, as Angie's drug-addict father had allegedly "sold her off" for RM12,000 (S$3,957).
Believing that the couple from Singapore was taking Angie to the Johor Police Headquarters on Thursday, Ms Tiong and her husband rushed to the station to see the girl, Lianhe Wanbao reported.
They waited for five hours, but there was no sign of Angie or the couple.
Mr Luo said they probably backed out due to the media attention.
Instead, the couple had apparently appointed a lawyer to handle the case, Wanbao reported.
Johor police said that they have questioned the couple from Singapore and will release more details when the investigation is complete.
The police said Angie will be returned to Johor Baru, Wanbao said.
Citing a source, China Press reported that the adoption was done through a middleman who got a lawyer in Johor Baru to do the paperwork. It is believed that the couple has never seen Angie's biological father.
When the Johor lawyer saw the media reports about the missing girl, he contacted the source to explain that there has been a misunderstanding.
The source said the biological father signed documents agreeing to transfer custody of the toddler to the couple, but he is not sure if money was given to the father.
According to the girls' relatives, who had been taking care of her, Angie's father took her away from them on Nov 9, claiming that he was taking her out to play. Her mother, a Vietnamese national, returned to Vietnam when she was five months old.
When Angie's father did not return the girl, they filed a police report early this month, the Oriental Daily reported.
Angie's father,who has a long history of drug abuse, had a different story though. He had reportedly lodged a police report a month after his daughter went missing, claiming he only realised she had been kidnapped after she did not return from a walk she had taken with his friend.
In his report lodged on Dec 10, the man said a male friend had taken Angie for a walk from a budget hotel in Jalan Maju at Johor's Taman Pelangi on Nov 11. Before they left for the walk, he said the friend had given him a "few thousand ringgit".
Police have now arrested three suspects - a cook, a labourer and an unemployed man - all aged between 30 and 33 years, in their investigation into the "kidnapping" case and are on the lookout for more.
This article was first published on Jan 1, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.