Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Soo Tet called for the maximum jail term of one year for a married couple who had starved their maid in 2015, saying that it is sickening that the victim had been forced to endure inhumane treatment of such cruelty and duration in what must have for her been an unspeakably hellish and unbearable existence.
In March 2016, Chong Sui Foon and her husband, Lim Choon Hong, both 48, were found guilty of starving Ms Thelma Oyasan Gawidan.
Ms Thelma, 40, had worked for the couple for almost 1.5 years, from 23 January 2013 to 18 April 2014, before she escaped from the condominium. She lost 20kgs from her intital weight of 49kg in January 2013 to 29kg. when she escaped from the condominium she worked in and sought refuge at HOME, a non-profit organisation (NGO) in April 2014.
Ms Christina Quek, the investigation officer in charge of the case told the court that Chong only allowed Ms Thelma to shower once or twice a week at the condominium’s public toilet and how she was given two meals a day, with each ration consisting of instant noodles and a slice of bread.
Ms Quek also shared that although Lim footed the GP’s bill, he refused to pay for Ms Thelma’s hospital bill as he said she “is not sick”.
HOME then reported Ms Thelma’s conditions to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), who directed the NGO to send Ms Thelma for a medical check up with a general practitioner (GP) and later at the hospital.
In his submissions on Thursday (23 February), DPP Tan told District Judge Low Wee Ping that even though Chong has a history of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), there was no link between her mental condition and her offence, adding that she deliberately and selectively exercised blatant discrimination against the victim.
DPP Lim stated that Ms Thelma had approached Lim to ask for more food to eat. However, he rejected the request and told Ms Thelma to eat what she had been given, which were usually plain white bread and instant noodles Lim personally bought for her.
DPP Lim said, “He was expressly aware of the food portions and meals which the victim was being provided, including the quantity and type of food, as well as the frequency and timing of the victim’s meals.”
Mr Raymond Lye, the couple’s lawyer, told the court on thursday (23 February) that the couple has decided to give Madam Gawidan $10,000 in compensation.
The Lawyer also asked the judge to consider a mandatory treatment order (MTO), which is for offenders who suffer from psychiatric conditions to go for psychiatric treatment in lieu of jail time or probation, for Chong.
However, his request was being rejected.
Judge Low stressed that there was no evidence that her OCD extended to an obsession and compulsion of restricting Madam Gawidan’s food and starving her.
Lim had pleaded guilty on March 2016 to failing to provide Madam Gawidan with adequate food.
While, Chong pleaded guilty to abetting him in committing the offence.
They will be back in court on March 16.
For committing the offence, the couple faces jail for up to a year and fined up to $10,000.