Couple gave 'hongbao' to father of adopted girl
THE couple who adopted two-year-old Angie Tiong gave a RM12,000 (S$3,940) "hongbao" (red packet) to the Malaysian toddler's father out of "goodwill and sympathy".
Cannie Wong, Angie's adoptive mother, revealed this during a press conference held in Johor Baru at the South Johore Chinese Press Club - about a 10-minute drive from the Causeway - yesterday morning.
"The middleman (who introduced Angie to the couple) said her father has debts and hoped we could help. So we provided it... It's like a token sum, so legally it's okay," said Mrs Wong, a Singaporean in her 40s, in Mandarin.
She was addressing reporters together with her mother-in-law, Madam Lee, and Malaysian businessman and Johor Temple Foundation founder Yap Yeen Min - whom the couple had sought for help over the case - at the press conference.
Mrs Wong's husband, a Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident, was unable to attend the press conference as he was ill.
Contrary to earlier reports that said the couple were childless, Mrs Wong revealed that they have a son but she had wanted a daughter. They started looking for a child in 2013 and had attended adoption courses in Singapore.
Angie's 33-year-old father, who has a history of substance abuse, was accused by relatives of "selling" Angie after he took her away from her Johor Baru home on Nov 9 last year. He subsequently reported her missing on Dec 10.
According to Malaysian newspaper China Press, Angie's mother was a Vietnamese who abandoned her when she was a baby.
Mrs Wong said she was shocked when her friend showed her newspaper reports of Angie's disappearance.
"I didn't know her family was so complicated. My intentions were purely to adopt her and provide a good family for her," she said.
The Wongs had brought Angie over to Singapore in mid-November after completing the adoption process in Malaysia through a lawyer.
They had planned to begin the adoption process in Singapore but decided to send Angie to Ipoh to be cared for by Mrs Wong's 75-year-old mother-in-law as they had business to attend to.
Angie was in Ipoh when news first broke of the case at the end of December.
While Malaysian police are still investigating the case, Mrs Wong said that she had recorded all her statements with the police.
She also does not intend to claim back the "hongbao" she gave to Angie's father.
"The case (for me) is already closed," she said. "We just want our normal lives back."
Describing Angie as a "sweet" and "very intelligent" girl, Mrs Wong said she was content so long as Angie's relatives could provide the girl with a good and happy environment to grow up in.
When asked if she has plans to keep in touch with Angie or be her godmother, Mrs Wong said: "Her background is too complicated. So no... but in the future if she needs help, I'll help her but I'll go through Mr Yap."
On why Angie's hair was cut short, Mrs Wong explained it was because the toddler did not like to shampoo her hair.
Angie is in the care of social workers and underwent a routine medical check-up at Hospital Sultanah Aminah.