DPP seeks maximum jail term for maid abusers

The DPP said the case involving Lim Choon Hong (far left) and Chong Sui Foon, who starved their helper, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan (above), was one of the most aggravated instances of ill treatment and abuse of a maid in Singapore.
The DPP said the case involving Lim Choon Hong (left) and Chong Sui Foon, who starved their helper, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, was one of the most aggravated instances of ill treatment and abuse of a maid in Singapore.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW
The DPP said the case involving Lim Choon Hong (far left) and Chong Sui Foon, who starved their helper, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan (above), was one of the most aggravated instances of ill treatment and abuse of a maid in Singapore.
The DPP said the case involving Lim Choon Hong and Chong Sui Foon, who starved their helper, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan (above), was one of the most aggravated instances of ill treatment and abuse of a maid in Singapore.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

He says couple who starved maid should get 1-year sentence, calling treatment inhumane

For 15 months, the married couple starved their Filipino maid, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, now 41, and watched as her weight plummeted from 49kg to 29.4kg.

Describing the maid's treatment as inhumane, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Soo Tet yesterday urged the court to sentence the Singaporean couple to the maximum jail term of a year.

In his submissions, he said the case involving freelance trader Lim Choon Hong and housewife Chong Sui Foon, both 48, was one of the most aggravated instances of ill treatment and abuse of a domestic maid in Singapore.

DPP Tan added: "It is sickening that the victim had been forced to endure inhumane treatment of such cruelty and duration in what must have for her been an unspeakably hellish and unbearable existence."

He said there was no link between Chong's history of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and her offence.

DPP Tan told District Judge Low Wee Ping that Lim was jointly responsible in restricting Madam Gawidan's food over the entire period of her employment from Jan 23, 2013 to April 18, 2014.

He noted that when the maid approached Lim directly to ask for more food, he told her to eat what she had been given.

DPP Tan said: "He personally purchased the plain white bread and instant noodles meant for the victim's sole and exclusive consumption.

"He was expressly aware of the food portions and meals which the victim was being provided, including the quantity and type of food, as well as the frequency and timing of the victim's meals."

Yesterday, defence lawyer Raymond Lye told the court that the couple have decided to give Madam Gawidan $10,000 in compensation.

He also asked the judge to consider a mandatory treatment order (MTO) or probation for Chong.

An MTO is for offenders who suffer from psychiatric conditions. They must go for psychiatric treatment in lieu of jail time.

But Judge Low denied his request, stressing that there was no evidence that her OCD extended to an obsession and compulsion of restricting Madam Gawidan's food and starving her.

The judge said: "Madam Chong's preoccupation with cleanliness would, if at all, only have affected the type of food which she chose to provide the victim.

"It did not explain her restriction of both the type and quantity of the food she had given the victim."

On March 23 last year, Lim pleaded guilty to failing to provide Madam Gawidan with adequate food, causing the weight loss.

Chong pleaded guilty to abetting him in committing the offence.

The couple, who have three children between the ages of 17 and 22, will be back in court on March 16.

For committing the offence, they can each be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'DPP seeks maximum jail term for maid abusers'. Print Edition | Subscribe