SINGAPORE – A husband-and-wife pair will be spending time behind bars after repeatedly abusing their domestic helper.
They had forced her to drink water from a toilet bowl and rubbed a soiled nappy on her face, among a number of humiliating acts they subjected her to.
On one occasion, Ms Sri Rahayu, 33, was hit with a metal ladlewhich caused her to faint.
The Indonesian finally ran away from her tormentors’ Anchorvale Link flat in January 2018.
During a medical examination, she was found with injuries including a deformed left ear lobe. It is likely to be permanent.
She was also found to have mild to moderate hearing loss to the ear.
Her employer Ooi Wei Voen, 37, was on Monday (Aug 30) sentenced to 20 months’ jail after she pleaded guilty to four assault charges.
The Malaysian’s husband, Pang Chen Yong, also 37, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and was given four months’ jail.
The court heard that both offenders had worked as IT engineers. At the time of the offences, they had a two-year-old son and a nine-month old daughter.
Ooi, a Singapore permanent resident, employed Ms Sri on April 19, 2017. The helper did not get any days off and did not have a mobile phone.
She usually started work at 6.30am and would complete her chores only at around 1am.
The couple starting abusing Ms Sri about three months into her employment when they felt that her work was unsatisfactory.
The court heard that when Pang, a Singaporean, got upset with Ms Sri, he would hit the maid’s head and upper arms, causing bruising.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Qi Shuen said: “When Ooi got upset with the victim, she would slap the victim on both her cheeks till they became red – once causing cut on her lips – pound her forehead with her fist or hit the victim’s hand with a metal ruler.
“Other times, Ooi made the victim perform squats, which the victim duly performed because she was afraid that Ooi would hit her instead.”
On one occasion, Ooi was unhappy with Ms Sri after the maid failed to ensure that the laundry was dry.
As punishment, she ordered Ms Sri to wet her own clothes and sleep in them. The maid complied.
Sometime between July and November 2017, Ooi rubbed a nappy filled with faeces on Ms Sri’s face and forced her to drink water from a toilet bowl.
Ooi also splashed hot water on the right side of Mr Sri’s waist in October 2017 when her crying daughter refused to sleep.
The DPP said: “Sometime between October and November 2017…Pang noticed that his baby was crying and blamed the victim for being late in preparing milk for his baby.
“Pang then grabbed, pulled and scratched the victim’s ears, causing the victim’s ears to become itchy and swollen. The victim’s left ear also bled.”
A few days later, Ooi accused Ms Sri of sneezing near her baby’s milk bottle and forcefully slapped the helper’s left ear, causing it to become more swollen and painful.
On Nov 22, 2017, Ooi took Ms Sri to a clinic for her mandatory checkup. The court heard that the doctor did not speak to Ms Sri and communicated only with Ooi.
“The history taken by Dr Wong Tien Hua at Mutual Healthcare Medical Clinic… stated that the victim was bitten by an unknown insect a few days prior. This history given was untrue,” said DPP Goh.
Ooi took the maid to another clinic the following month as the swelling to the latter’s ear did not subside.
The court heard that according to a report by Dr Jason Ong of Sunbeam Medical Clinic, the victim had earlier sustained an injury to her ear in Indonesia when she was hit by her husband.
DPP Goh told the court: “The victim’s ear did not in fact have such a deformity when she arrived in Singapore and the history given was untrue.”
To conceal her injuries, Mr Sri was, on occasion, made to wear a tudung when they went out.
The victim was also told not to hang laundry at the flat’s window when her arms were swollen or bruised.
Whenever Ms Sri made a mistake with her household chores, the couple would make her record it on a “mistake sheet”.
Some time before Christmas 2017, Ooi used a metal ladle to hit Ms Sri’s thighs multiple times until the latter fainted. The maid had trouble walking for a few days after this incident.
At around 1am on Jan 1 , 2018, Pang got upset with Ms Sri for failing to tell him that his daughter had a fever.
He then took a plastic scoop and splashed cold water on the helper. After that, he used it to repeatedly strike Ms Sri’s head.
Ooi joined in the attack soon after and kicked her. The couple were attending to their daughter when Ms Sri ran out of the flat.
Ms Sri sought help from another Indonesian helper who happened to be passing by and she was taken to a police station.
After that, Ms Sri went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital where she was found with injuries including multiple bruises and a deformed left ear lobe.
On Jan 2, 2018, Ooi called the police, stating that Ms Sri had run away.
DPP Goh said that both Ooi and Pang had been found to be suffering from major depressive disorder at the time of their offences.
She added: “Nevertheless, Ooi’s (disorder) has not caused her to have a total lack of self-control and restraint of her acts at the time of her offences…(A doctor) opined that Pang’s (disorder) may have led to an increased impulsivity in reacting to stressful situations.”
Pang started serving his sentence on Monday.
Meanwhile, Ooi’s bail has been set at $5,000 and she will be serving her sentence after Pang completes his as she has to take care of their two children.
She was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on Jan 3 next year to begin serving her sentence.
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