Rumours swirling online about children being kidnapped in Malaysia and smuggled off to Thailand for organ harvesters have caused many Singaporeans to become jittery, especially among many parents who still travel regularly to Malaysia for business and pleasure.
However, Malaysian police have rubbished the claims in the viral “warnings”, which have been spread on mobile devices and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
According to the hoax, children are allegedly being kidnapped and sold to human traffickers who harvest their organs for sale in the black market. In some of these messages, 2 photos are shown of children being taped up and packed in cardboard boxes. There is another image as well showing a group of children being lined up like livestock, lying motionless on the floor.
However, Malaysian police point out that several versions of the hoax are being circulated online, with all of these messages using the same pictures.
Even the pictures are not actual images showing child smuggling in Malaysia.
In one of the images, the body of a child is shown being packed up in a SanQua cardboard box. However, SanQua is an Indonesian brand of bottled water not sold in Malaysia or Thailand.
In another of the hoax images, a girl shown stuffed in a box actually comes from a murder case which happened in Indonesia last year. Nine-year-old Putri Nur Fauziah was tragically murdered after she was sexually assaulted. She was then stuffed into a cardboard box and dumped in an illegal garbage site in Kamal subdistrict, Kalideres, West Jakarta in October 2015.
The third and most heart wrenching image, while true, is taken from Syria, which showed the aftermath of the Ghouta chemical attack in August 2013 which killed dozens of children.
According to Malaysian police, the rumours have been circulating from as long as 2014.
“I advise the public to stop spreading this case and not to easily believe any kind of incidents that is going viral on social media,” Kedah police chief Datuk Asri Yusoff told reporters.