Mary Chia CEO fined for illegal hiring

Ho was fined $2,600 after pleading guilty to employing three foreign women without the prior written approval of the Licensing Officer.
Ho was fined $2,600 after pleading guilty to employing three foreign women without the prior written approval of the Licensing Officer.ST PHOTO

The chief executive officer of home-grown beauty chain Mary Chia Holdings was fined $2,600 yesterday after pleading guilty to employing three foreign women in massage establishments without prior written approval from the Licensing Officer.

Ho Yow Ping, 45, daughter of the firm's founder Mary Chia, was caught violating the Massage Establishment Rules in 2015.

Five other similar charges under the same rule and one count of failing to maintain a proper employees' record were taken into consideration. Based on court documents, a licensee can employ workers in a massage establishment only with the written approval.

According to the law, licensees can hire only workers who have undergone and passed a medical health screening if required by the Licensing Officer. The licensee also cannot hire a worker believed to be a person of bad character.

A check by the Compliance Management Unit (CMU) of Bedok Division at the Mary Chia Beauty and Slimming Specialist outlet in Tampines Central 5 on June 11, 2015, found Malaysian Chong Yee Ting, 34, working there as a senior consultant.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Carene Poh said the Singapore permanent resident's job included supervising therapists and performing facial services on regular customers. The police also found work-permit holder Yang Hong, 48, working there as a customer service officer. The Chinese national was then performing a body scrub on a customer.

DPP Poh said subsequent screenings with the Police Licensing Computerised System (Plus) revealed that Ho had failed to obtain prior written approval from the Licensing Officer for the employment of Ms Chong and Ms Yang.

On Oct 1, 2015, another police officer from the CMU of Central Division conducted a check at the Huang Ah Ma The Oriental Spa Chamber in Mosque Street, Chinatown, and found Chinese national Lian Meifen, 30, working there as a spa manager. The S-pass holder had been tasked to oversee reception matters and arrange for therapists at the outlet. The court heard that Ho is also the licence holder of Spa Menu, which runs Huang Ah Ma The Oriental Spa Chamber.

A check on Plus revealed that Ho had also failed to obtain prior written approval from the Licensing Officer for Ms Lian's employment.

In mitigation, Ho's lawyer, Mr Clement Chen, told District Judge Low Wee Ping that his client had delegated her company's operations to her then subordinates from the human-resource department. However, they did not complete the necessary paperwork for the employees involved in the case.

Still, Mr Chen said Ho accepted responsibility for the offences and is remorseful for her lack of oversight.

For each count of employing a worker without the prior written approval of the Licensing Officer, she could have been fined up to $1,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Mary Chia CEO fined for illegal hiring'. Print Edition | Subscribe