Singaporeans jailed for pouring hot coffee on an Indonesian maid
A week after her first job in Singapore, a domestic worker told her employer that she wanted to return to the maid agency because her employer’s wife and daughter were never satisfied with their job performance.
However, instead of being sent back as requested, the maid suffered increasing abuse from the family, including being splashed with hot liquid and harassed with a heated iron.
A neighbor finally called the police after hearing constant shouting at the helper from midnight to 5:45 a.m. local time.
Former events manager Tan Pei Ling, 46, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay the victim S$20,000 (US$14,762) in compensation.
She pleaded guilty to two charges, with three other charges being considered.
Her mother, 68-year-old Tan Ai Tee, was sentenced to nine months in prison and a S$2,500 (US$1,845) reparation order. She admitted one charge of voluntary injury with a cutting instrument, taking two other counts into account.
Pei Ling’s father, tomb driver and part-time mobile worker Tan Huat, 70, was sentenced to three weeks in prison and must pay S$500 (US$369) in compensation for a charge of willingly harming a maid.
Huat hired the victim, 27-year-old Indonesian national Heni Rahayu, in January 2020. She was put in charge of household chores for the family, who lived in an apartment in Ang Mo Kio.
She usually started work at 6am and only slept between 2am and 4am as she had to finish her chores before she slept.
She communicated in Bahasa Indonesia but was not fluent in English, so she could only speak fluently to Huat, who knew Bahasa Melayu.
After working for the Tans for about a week, the victim told Huat that she wanted to return to the maid agency as she felt the two women were never satisfied with their job performance.
Sometime after that, Ai Tee started hitting the victim if she didn’t do the housework to her satisfaction. She hit the maid’s head with her fist and hit her with a plastic bucket.
A Singapore woman and her parents have been jailed for abusing her domestic help. (Photo: South China Morning Post)
Around June 2020, her daughter Pei Ling also started hitting the victim, including with a plastic chair and a metal bar.
Huat once slapped the victim twice in the mouth in June 2020, prompting her to reply to his wife and daughter when they spoke to her. This was the only time he met the helper.
The victim did not tell Huat about the other abuses as she felt he could not help her since the women were his family members.
She also did not seek help from the other family members in the household – Pei Ling’s brother and son – as she could not communicate with them and felt that they could not help her.
She was unable to contact her maid agency as she was not allowed to have a cell phone. She also had no days off and was not allowed to leave the apartment alone.
Sometime between April and June 2020, Ai Tee felt that the victim was cutting vegetables too slowly.
After cursing at her, Ai Tee took the knife from her and used it to injure the victim’s hand.
Ai Tee sought her daughter’s help to stop the bleeding, but they did not take her to the doctor.
At around 2:30 a.m. on July 23, 2020, the victim was doing housework as she was not allowed to sleep until she was finished.
Hungry and tired, she went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.
Pei Ling entered the kitchen and got angry at the victim for stealing coffee, so she splashed the coffee on her. She also threatened the maid that she would not be allowed to sleep or eat unless she finished ironing by 5 a.m.
Later that morning, Pei Ling burned the helper’s arm with a heated iron.
A neighbor called police at 5:46 a.m. that day, saying he suspected his neighbor was abusing their helper.
He said he heard the employer keep yelling at the woman who was still mopping the floor at midnight.
Shortly thereafter, the police arrived and the victim was taken to the hospital, where various injuries to the head and body were noted.
Assistant prosecutor Derek Ee asked for three to six weeks in prison for Huat, who once punched the victim.
Ai Tee and Pei Ling’s offenses went against a broader pattern of abuse over the months of the victim’s work in the home, he said.
He asked for nine to 12 months in prison for Ai Tee and between 20 and 22 months in prison for Pei Ling.
He also asked the court to issue compensation orders of S$500 against Huat, S$2,500 against Ai Tee and S$20,000 against Pei Ling.
He said the events on the morning of July 23, 2020 were “extremely upsetting” for the victim.
Defense attorney Vinodh Visvanathan pleaded for leniency for his clients, citing how significant prison sentences would hit the elderly couple, particularly Ai Tee.
He listed her medical conditions, including diabetes and various skin conditions.
He also asked the court to consider the impact of detention on Pei Ling’s son. He said Pei Ling accepts that there is a price to pay, but she is a single mother with sole custody and the family’s sole breadwinner.
The attorney also asked for various deferrals so that the child could be cared for while his mother or grandparents served their sentences.
He said Pei Ling submitted her resignation letter in early February but had to give a notice period.
District Judge Luke Tan said there was no doubt that foreign domestic workers were a protected class and that it was not the first time the Tans had employed a maid.
“Unfortunately for the victim in this case, she was mistreated at various times during her employment.”
Huat will begin his prison sentence on Tuesday. The judge allowed his wife and daughter to begin their prison term on April 3.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch