SINGAPORE – His family was barred by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) from hiring maids after his wife assaulted a domestic worker in 2014, but he circumvented the rules by getting a third party to do it for them.
When the authorities learnt of the ruse, Syed Mohamed Peeran Syed Ameer Hamza and his wife, Sabah Parveen, had the maid sent back to Indonesia.
Sabah, 37, and Syed, 41, were on Friday (Dec 17) convicted over their roles in intentionally obstructing the course of justice.
Syed was also convicted over false declarations made to get the maid to work for the family. The Singaporean was sentenced to 36 weeks’ jail in total.
Sabah was sentenced to three days’ jail.
The court heard that Sabah, an Indian national and Singapore permanent resident, was charged in 2014 with three counts of voluntarily causing hurt against her family’s domestic worker.
Her household was then placed on an MOM blacklist, which temporarily barred them from hiring maids.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En told the court that in July 2018, Syed enlisted the help of Mr Suresh Murugaiyan to hire a maid.
Mr Suresh is a director of a company where Syed is a shareholder, and an employee in another company where Syed is a director.
Mr Suresh falsely indicated in MOM’s online Work Pass System that he would be the employer of one Ms Aminah, a maid from Indonesia. She goes by one name.
But it was Syed’s phone number and e-mail that were submitted in the application, so that the ministry would contact him when looking for the maid’s employer.
The system then generated an in-principle approval.
On July 17, 2018, Ms Aminah arrived in Singapore and started working for the couple. They have two young children.
On Aug 9 that year, Mr Suresh falsely submitted Work Permit declaration forms, following Syed’s persuasion, in order to get Ms Aminah a work pass.
The application was approved five days later.
After being paid for her first three months of work, Ms Aminah was not given her salary for at least two months.
On Jan 24, 2019, she shared her problems with a Filipina domestic helper, who gave her the number to the Centre for Domestic Employees.
The centre then related the information to MOM, which notified the police the same day.
Police officers visited the couple’s home and indicated that someone had alerted MOM to a case of maid abuse.
DPP Chong said: “(Syed) insisted that there were no domestic workers in his employment at the material time, that there was no maid at the unit, and that the only persons staying at the unit were his family members.”
In fact, Syed had instructed Ms Aminah to hide in the master bedroom ensuite.
After the officers left, he bought an air ticket for the maid and she left for Indonesia that very night.
Police and MOM learnt the next day that Mr Suresh was not in fact hiring Ms Aminah, and that she had been working at the couple’s home.
They interviewed the couple the following day after which Syed attempted to leave Singapore but was stopped at the airport.
His lawyer Rachel Soh said her client had been based in Hong Kong when he hired the maid and did so as he was motivated by a “desire to provide support for his wife and children”.
Sabah’s lawyer Jeremy Pereira said his client was only aware that an offence had been committed when the police came knocking.
For intentionally obstructing the course of justice, the couple could have each been jailed for seven years, fined or both.
Syed could have been jailed for two years, fined $20,000 or both for getting Mr Suresh to furnish false information.
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