Punggol couple claim trial over maid abuse

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 38, and Lim Toon Leng, 43, allegedly committed the offences against Myanmar national Phyu Phyu Mar in their Punggol Walk flat in 2016.
Linda Seah Lei Sie, 38, and Lim Toon Leng, 43, allegedly committed the offences against Myanmar national Phyu Phyu Mar in their Punggol Walk flat in 2016.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Beauty salon director allegedly hit maid; wife accused of physically abusing woman multiple times

A married couple who allegedly subjected their maid to a range of abuse - such as physical assault and forcing her to pour scalding hot water on herself - have claimed trial to the charges.

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 38, who employed Myanmar national Phyu Phyu Mar, is said to have caused her to drink water mixed with floor cleaner, and even got her to knock her own head on the floor.

She is also accused of pulling the helper's hair and shaking her until "quite a lot" of hair fell out, as well as hitting her with a mobile phone, causing bruising on her forehead, left eye and left hand.

Seah, who is the "boss" at her husband's Anew Me Beauty Aesthetic salon, is accused of physically abusing the woman multiple times.

On the first day of her trial yesterday, the court heard that she faced six charges in all.

Her husband Lim Toon Leng, 43, who is a director and shareholder at the beauty salon, faces one assault charge.

He is accused of punching the maid on her forehead twice.

The couple allegedly committed the offences in their Punggol Walk flat between August and October 2016.

Ms Lee Lee Yen, who used to work at Anew Me, told the court that she performed administrative duties there between December 2015 and October 2016.

Ms Lee, who is now an insurance agent, said Seah first took Ms Phyu Phyu Mar, who is in her 20s, to their workplace in February 2016. The maid performed jobs such as cleaning windows and dusting shelves.

"She was quite chatty. She had long hair and looked a bit chubby," Ms Lee said. She testified that the maid had slimmed down by September 2016, and that she complained of being hungry.

Ms Lee said she gave her some biscuits and drinks, which were consumed "at a very fast speed".

On Oct 14 , 2016, Ms Lee noticed that the maid had a swollen left eye and a bruise around it. When asked about this, the maid showed her an injury on her left shoulder.

Ms Lee told District Judge Olivia Low: "It was a hot water scalding mark. It was red and the skin was starting to peel off... She told me Linda poured hot water on her and made her pour hot water on herself."

Ms Lee alerted the police later that evening, the court heard.

Seah is represented by lawyer Kasturibai Manickam, while her husband Lim's lawyer is Mr T.U. Naidu.

When cross-examined by Mr Naidu, Ms Lee said that Ms Phyu Phyu Mar did not mention his client in her allegations.

Ms Kasturibai also asked Ms Lee if the maid had told her how she got the bruise. Ms Lee replied: "She did not tell me."

She also testified that she is not sure if Seah had indeed abused Ms Phyu Phyu Mar.

"That is why I lodged a police report... I believe the police will carry out a thorough investigation," said Ms Lee.

The trial resumes today. Those convicted of maid abuse can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2018, with the headline 'Punggol couple claim trial over maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe