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Jakarta Post

Singaporean salon manager jailed for abusing Myanmar maid

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Singapore   /   Mon, February 11, 2019   /   04:41 pm
Singaporean salon manager jailed for abusing Myanmar maid Newly arrived domestic helpers from Indonesia wait for their transportation to a maid agency after going through medical check in Singapore on March 6, 2012. Singapore's decision to grant a mandatory weekly day off for foreign maids was welcomed by social workers and human rights groups, but some employers were unhappy. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP (AFP/Roslan Rahman)

A Singaporean woman who abused her Myanmar maid by forcing her to pour hot water on herself, pulling her hair out and hitting her was jailed for three years on Monday.

Singapore is home to almost 250,000 maids, mostly from other parts of Southeast Asia, who head to the tiny but wealthy city-state to earn far higher salaries.

Beauty parlour manager Linda Seah, 39, was convicted last month for the abuse inflicted on Phyu Phyu Mar in 2016.

The mistreatment detailed in six charges included two instances when the maid was forced to pour hot water onto her left shoulder, leaving her with burn marks and blisters. 

Seah also forced her to drink "water adulterated with floor cleaner", according to the charges. 

On one occasion she shook the maid by the hair until some of it came out, and on another, hit her repeatedly in the head with a mobile phone.

The Singapore court heard that Seah was unhappy as she felt her employee was slow in completing her chores.

But handing down the jail sentence, District Judge Olivia Low said that Seah's "unhappiness with the victim’s work should not justify any form of violence against" her.

She said the victim suffered "psychological harm" and had been left with a scar on her shoulder.

As well as the jail term, Seah was fined Sg$9,000 ($6,630).

The judge said aggravating factors for the sentence included that the maid was denied food, leading her to become malnourished, and her salary was not paid.

The woman's husband Lim Toon Leng, 44, was jailed for six weeks on one charge of punching the maid on the forehead.

The abuses came to light after the maid accompanied Seah to the salon she managed, where one of the employees alerted the police.

Abuse of domestic workers is not as common in tightly-regulated Singapore as other parts of Asia, but some cases have made headlines. 

In 2017, a Singapore couple were jailed for starving their Philippine maid until she weighed just 29 kilograms (64 pounds).