Malaysian mother criticised for fiddling with phone while daughter fell to her death

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The mother of a six-year-old girl is in the spotlight after a CCTV footage of her fiddling with her mobile phone shortly before her daughter fell to her death sparked outrage among Malaysians on social media.

In the minute-long footage, Nurhayada Sofia Musa could be seen playing near the escalator on the second floor of Kenanga Wholesale City Mall with her sister and her mother nearby.

The mother had earlier been on the phone and then appeared to start texting. The girl was seen climbing over the banister and falling through the gap between the balustrade and the escalator.

Nurhayada's mother, who was until then still fiddling with her phone, ran down the escalator with her other daughter trailing after her.

City CID chief Senior Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad said police were investigating the incident which happened at about 3pm on Friday. They were also investigating the possibility of negligence by Nurhayada's mother.

"We hope the public refrains from speculating on the matter," he said.

A source close to the investigation said police had already questioned the victim's parents.

Their statements were taken to facilitate investigations into the case, which was classified as "sudden death" with no elements of foul play.

"If we receive instructions to reclassify the case as negligence under the Child Act, we will do that," said the source.

Malaysia Shopping Malls Association adviser H.C. Chan called for greater safety precautions, saying gaps should not exist between panels and escalators.

"There should be a barrier to prevent anyone from entering the space," he said.

But he pointed out that parents who brought children to public places must also keep an eye on them.

Chan added that malls usually had signage reminding adults to accompany children when using escalators.

A spokesman of the mall had declined to comment on the issue until police investigations were completed.

Association of Registered Child­care Providers Malaysia president P.H. Wong called on shopping malls to have child protection policies at their buildings so that they could minimise risk of accidents.

"It is also ultimately the duty of parents to look after their young children. The parents cannot assume that the kids can take care of themselves," she said.