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Rumah Bonda founder says loves Bella 'more than any other child'

Siti Bainun Ahd Razali defends herself from charges of neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl.

3 minute read
Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali. Photo: Bernama
Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali. Photo: Bernama

Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali told the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court yesterday that there was no need for her to abuse the teenage girl with Down syndrome known as Bella as she loved the teen more than any other child in her care.

Siti Bainun, 31, who had Bella in her care since July 2020, also said that the teen was a funny and sweet girl who loved to sing to herself in front of the mirror, all of which made her enjoy teasing the girl.

Throughout the time Bella was in her care, Siti Bainun said, she had never received any money, collected donations or secured assistance to support and manage the girl.

"I sold bread, cakes and pasta and took catering orders to support seven of my children, including Bella. 

"For catering, I would do the cooking myself at my mother’s home and not ask my children to help me unless I cooked in the condominium. They themselves wanted to help me without being forced," she said, reading her witness statement at her defence proceedings against charges of neglecting and abusing Bella before judge Izralizam Sanusi.

She said the children under her care and those living in Rumah Bonda were taught to be independent, disciplined and loving towards each other, even though many of them were from less fortunate backgrounds.
"Bella, I allowed her to sweep the floor and learn to wipe dishes because she didn't know how to wash dishes well. So I or her sisters would wash her plates. 

"I teach her how to manage herself. We don’t stop her from being independent, but she is also a special child who needs attention.

"In my mind, if I’m gone one day, these children will know their responsibilities and will be able to take care of themselves. But I don’t force or order her (Bella) to do work like the others, as I’m aware of what she’s able to do," she said.

Siti Bainun said she set up Rumah Bonda with her inheritance from her father and planned to move to the condominium in Wangsa Maju to offer a better and more comfortable place for Bella.

About Bella being tied, she said the teen liked to wander at night to look for snacks and had drank a whole carton of milk previously, causing her to suffer from diarrhoea, something the fifth prosecution witness Yasmin Nahar Mahmood had admitted knowing about.

"Yasmin had a cloth which she used to attach Bella’s leg to hers, so if Bella got up to wander, Yasmin could wake up and tell her to go back to sleep.
"That’s why when asked who tied her, Bella said Shomin. Yasmin herself admitted in her statement that she was Shomin, but the tie was not strong at all and was only for Bella’s safety. The proof is that Bella does not have any injuries or swelling due to being tied, unlike what the prosecution witnesses claimed," she added.

Siti Bainun is charged with neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl and causing the victim to suffer physical and emotional injuries at a condominium in Wangsa Maju from February to June 2021.

The charge under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 carries a sentence of 20 years’ jail, a fine of RM50,000, or both upon conviction.