JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A man in Malaysia has 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 the two-year-old named Angie Tiong 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".
But 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. But when he did not return the girl, they filed a police report early this month, the Oriental Daily reported.
Angie's caregivers said they suspect the father, who has a long history of drug abuse, has sold off the girl as he was inconsistent in describing her disappearance when questioned by the relatives.
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.
Asked if the father was one of those arrested, district police officer for Johor Baru South Assistant Commissioner Sulaiman Salleh said: "He was investigated and remanded but later released. He (the father) is not among those arrested.
"He (the father) only realised that he was cheated after a month because his daughter was still missing and the kidnapper, whom he befriended that very day, could not be reached until today," he said when contacted.
A missing children alert has been issued for the girl, who is listed as being 100cm tall and weighing 10kg when she was last seen.
A notice about the girl's disappearance was also posted on the official Education Ministry Facebook page on Monday (Dec 28).
Two of the suspects, said ACP Sulaiman, were detained on Dec 11 and the third was held on Dec 16.
The case is being investigated under Section 48 of the Child Act 2001.
Initial investigations showed that one of the suspects had five previous criminal and drug-related cases.
It is learnt that the toddler's mother, a foreigner, is not in the country and that the father, who is an odd job worker, has been staying in various budget hotels in Johor Baru.