District Judge Low Wee Ping said during a case of an Indonesian maid who was convicted of ill-treating her employer’s then-four-year-old son that “the system (may) be at fault for allowing maids to perform such (medical) work”.
He said that the country employs maids too generally, saying, “(We) employ them as car washers, plumbers, house painters, medical caregivers when we shouldn’t be. And when they do something wrong, we point our (fingers) at them.”
Kusrini Bt Caslan Arja worked for her employer and her task was to look after the employer’s bedridden child, who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
She, occasionally, had to resuscitate the boy using suction machine to clear the boy’s windpipe of phlegm and mucus by placing the suction cap on the child’s nose and lips. The boy’s mother trained Kusrini as she was a nurse herself.
On 23 November 2016, Kusrini noticed that the boy had “more (phlegm and mucus) than usual”. Therefore, she opened his mouth and inserted the suction cap, saying that this way was “more thorough”.
Unfortunately, the cap became lodged in the boy’s throat.
Kusrini then used her fingers to try and remove the cap. However, she could not take it out of her throat.
She then repeatedly and forcefully inserted her right hand into the victim’s mouth and throat to remove the caps.
She tried for eight whole minutes. However, she still could not take it out.
At this point, the boy was bleeding profusely. His face was also turning purple from lack of oxygen. placed an oxygen mask over the boy’s mouth for about a minute, before she removed it and started “digging” into his mouth and throat to retrieve the cap.
The maid then placed an oxygen mask over the boy’s mouth for about a minute. Then she tried again to remove it by “digging” into his mouth and throat to retrieve the cap.
However, after ten minutes of trying, the cap remained lodged in his throat.
The maid then cleaned up the blood around the boy’s mouth and on his clothes and replaced a blood-soaked towel with a clean one.
The boy’s parents seen Kusrini giving the boy oxygen via a CCTV camera installed next to the boy’s bed. They then called Kusrini to check whether anything was wrong and she assured them that everything was under control.
When the boy’s parents return home that evening, they noticed that the suction machine was fillled with blood.
The boy’s mother then opened the child’s mouth and saw the cap in his throat. She then removed the cap with a pair of tweezer and immediately called an ambulance and the Police.
The Court heard that the cap had been lodged in the boy’s throat for at least 12 hours. He could have choked and died, said a doctor at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
A doctor at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital said that he could have choked and died.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Teo Lu Jia called for a jail term of 18 months.
He said that Kusrini’s carelessness had endangered the child’s life, adding that she had “no regard for the victim’s pain and suffering”. DPP Teo
DPP Teo also said that she tried to cover up her mistake by cleaning up the blood and refusing to tell her employers.
Kusrini was not represented. She told the Court that she regrets her actions.
Kusrini closed her eyes when CCTV footage was played in court, saying she did not want to watch the video because she felt “ashamed and embarrassed”.
However, Judge Low disagreed with the prosecution’s call for an 18-month jail term, calling the term “manifestly excessive” and distinguishing the maid’s case from others in which maids intentionally physically abused their employer’s children.
Judge Low said that as the footage shows she was desperately trying to retrieve the suction cap, pointing out that Kusrini is not a trained nurse.
“I’m sure she didn’t intend to do all those things. I’m sure she’s equally (traumatised),” the judge said.
He then called for a volunteer lawyer to take on her case. “Let’s do justice and dispense what we call mercy,” he added.
Lawyer Mahmood Gaznavi has taken on her case.
Kusrini’s case will next be heard on 23 March.