The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that it did not receive any complaints or “adverse feedback” from migrant domestic workers who had previously worked for Myanmar national Piang Ngaih Don’s employer.
40-year-old Gaiyathiri Murugayan admitted to 28 charges including culpable homicide, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by starvation and wrongful restraint against then-24-year-old Piang Ngaih Don, who was under her employment for 10 months.
Shocking footage of Ms Piang’s ordeal — which was played in court — was captured by CCTVs installed around the flat by Gaiyathiri and her policeman husband, Kevin Chelvam to monitor the domestic worker and their two children.
Chelvam is Ms Piang’s first, last and only employer in Singapore.
Charges are pending against Chelvam, who has been suspended from the police force, as well as Gaiyathiri’s mother, 61-year-old Prema Naraynasamy.
In light of the case surfacing in the public eye, MOM released a statement on Wednesday (24 Feb), stating that Chelvam had employed four other migrant domestic workers before hiring Ms Piang, but had not received any complaints or “adverse feedback” from the workers about Chelvam or his family.
Ms Piang began working for Chelvam’s family on 28 May 2015.
The Ministry added that Ms Piang attended and passed her six-monthly medical examination on 19 January 2016.
She visited the same doctor in May 2016 for a runny nose, cough and swelling on her legs, but MOM said that “nothing adverse was flagged to the authorities’ attention on either occasion”.
According to court documents, the clinic was identified as Bishan Grace Clinic, as reported by CNA.
It was said that two months before Ms Piang’s death, the doctor had noticed bruises around her eye sockets and cheeks, but Gaiyathiri claimed that the helper was clumsy and fell down frequently.
The doctor had suggested further tests on Ms Piang’s swollen legs in case of underlying conditions, but Gaiyathiri rejected his suggestions.
Commenting on this, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told the media that MOM is reviewing how doctors report these medical examinations, highlighting that most employers comply with the requirement of having their workers to attend such check-ups.
“Doctors also have a duty to report to the police or MOM if they are detecting signs of abuse or distress. We have made this point explicit in 2017, and we will have to further strengthen this,” said Ms Teo.
No complaints do not indicate that they were well-treated, they could be suffering in silence: Netizens
Over on social media, netizens commented on TODAY’s Facebook post regarding the issue that MOM not receiving any complaints or adverse feedback from the four workers does not indicate that they were treated well by the employer, but rather because they had to “suffer in silence”.
Others pointed out that the doctor should have reported Ms Piang’s injuries to the authorities.