The State Courts / photo: Terry Xu

The court has decided on Thursday (12 July) to give the sole proprietor of an employment agency, who brought in a 13-year-old girl from Myanmar to work as a domestic worker in Singapore, the maximum fine of S$5,000.

Khor Siew Tiang, 35, the sole proprietor of Vista Employment Services, applied to bring in a 13-year-old domestic worker in July last year. However, she declared that the girl was 23, the minimum age requirement of foreign domestic workers set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2005.

After receiving information on the case, an employment inspector with MOM carried out investigations in August last year.

Khor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the maid met the minimum age requirement during the trial.

The defence asked for a fine of between S$2,000 and S$4,000. He stated that Khor had just given birth to her youngest child at the time of the offence.

The defence then stated that the maid’s passport had a false date of birth.

He also said that the girl was taller than other Burmese women Khor had encountered, saying that Khor did not understand the girl’s language and that this was her first brush with the law.

Furthermore, he noted that Khor’s employment agency licence has been suspended.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda said, “It’s no excuse for her to say she didn’t understand the language and had to rely on her counterpart in Myanmar, as it’s her responsibility as an employment agent.”

As an employment agency licensee, Khor knew that she had to carry out several checks to ensure that the maid she was bringing in met the minimum age requirements. However, she did not conduct a screening of the girl.

She also failed to carry out any form of basic interviews with her to ask about her family history, the ages of her parents and siblings, her educational history and work experience.

Khor chose to rely on the information in the girl’s biodata provided by her Myanmar agent and the girl’s passport, which had an inaccurate date of birth.

According to the judge, her actions resulted in a 13-year-old girl being brought to Singapore, saying, “This is 10 years below MOM’s minimum age. Really, this girl is just a child. I’ll accept that this was not intentional. This was failure to carry out necessary checks.”

The judge then sentenced Khor to a fine of S$5,000, which the prosecution had asked for. She could have been jailed for up to six months.

The young girl has since been sent back to her home country and barred from seeking employment in Singapore.

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