Two years ago, a Singaporean couple was convicted of abusing their Indonesian domestic worker. On Monday (4 March) they were found guilty for abusing another Foreign Domestic worker (FDW).
Tay Wee Kiat, 41, and his wife, Chia Yun Ling, 43, were declared guilty for six and 15 charges respectively. Their offences were mostly conducted in 2012.
It was revealed during their trial that their domestic helper, 31-year-old Myanmar national Moe Moe Than, was originally hired to help the couple’s Indonesian maid Fitriyah, who worked in the couple’s five-room flat in Yishun from December 2010 to December 2012. However, Ms Than only managed to work for the couple from 8 January 2011 to 12 November 2012.
It was reported that the Myanmar woman was slapped and caned multiple times. She also only got lesser than six hours of sleep daily and consumed mostly rice on its own or with sugar. If she complains of not having enough food, the rice and sugar will be forced down her mouth through a funnel.
In fact, her ordeal didn’t just stop there. After running to the toilet as she was choking, Ms Than was instructed by Chia to throw up inside a plastic bag and eat her own vomit.
Besides that, Chia only allowed Ms Than to use the washroom three times a day in order not to waste water.
District Judge Olivia Low said that she was satisfied that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Chia slapped Ms Than on four occasions. She once slapped the FDW for accidentally dropping the couple’s baby on the floor as she felt tired and sleepy. Ms Than had to wake up at 5.30am daily and only went to bed past midnight as she had to give Chia a foot massage until she was satisfied.
On one occasion, the Myanmar helper dozed off and Chia picked up a cane and hit her head.
The couple first made to the headlines for abusing their Indonesian maid for over two years. They appealed but the High Court in March 2018 upheld the convictions, and set out a new sentencing framework to guide maid abuse cases.
Ms Fitriyah, who had returned to Singapore to testify in the trial, said she saw Chia caning Ms Than on the head. However, Chia denied this and claimed that Ms Than volunteered to massage her, and she would just move her leg to wake Ms Than when she dozed off.
As for Tay, the judge found him guilty of six charges, acquitting him of two others.
During the trial, it is known that he caned Ms Than’s hand and buttocks for chipping the dining table, as well as hitting her buttocks with a broomstick and a metal clothing hook for waking up late. In addition to that, he had also caned both maids on the head, and kicked them.
Although both women are from different religions, Tay made them slap each other 10 times and worship in front of the Buddhist altar table 100 times.
After not being able to take the torture, in November 2012, Ms Than sought help from her Myanmar agent and a Ministry of Manpower officer made a report that a maid had been severely abused by her employer.
She was then checked at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in December 2012 and was found with multiple healed scars over her arm, wrist, hip and a healed laceration over her head.
For abusing Ms Fitriyah, Tay was previously sentenced to 28 months’ jail, and his wife was sentenced to two months’ jail. However, after appealing, his sentence was increased to 43 months.
The court allowed the couple to begin their sentences only after the end of the trial involving Ms Than. They will be back in court on 18 March (Monday) for sentencing.
After reading this news on Channel NewsAsia’s Facebook page where over 900 comments were received, netizens were furious to learn their despicable actions and hoped that the couple will be given the maximum sentence.
Some even questioned why the couple were allowed to hire a new FDW in the first place.
However, not all FDWs are going through a bad situation. Some have come forward and shared their good experiences working in Singapore.