Administration manager jailed six weeks for maid abuse

SINGAPORE - Domestic worker Tri Astuti found herself the target of her employer's anger just over a month into her job.

From punching her to throwing household items at the maid, administration manager Toh Ah Hoon subjected the Indonesian to physical abuse for seemingly trivial reasons.

On Thursday (March 21), Toh, 53, was sentenced to six weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of assaulting the maid.

Two other similar charges were considered during sentencing. Toh was also ordered to pay the maid $3,500 as compensation.

Ms Tri, 35, started working at Toh's Jalan Damai flat near Bedok Reservoir Road on Feb 1, 2018.

The maid, who is no longer in Singapore, took instructions from Toh in a mixture of English and Malay as she was not fluent in English, the court heard.

At around 6pm on March 13 last year, Toh became unhappy with the way Ms Tri wrapped fish with cling wrap and decided to do the job herself.

While grabbing the cling-wrap box, the Singaporean cut her index finger, which began to bleed profusely.

Ms Tri then retrieved a piece of cloth to clean the blood off the floor.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said: "The accused then punched Tuti once on her back. The accused... shouted at Tuti and asked if she was happy seeing the accused injured."

As a result, the maid suffered pain on her back for about three days.

She was in the kitchen 10 days later when Toh threw three books at her.

The DPP told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan: "This was because Tuti had not recorded the accused's instructions in English as instructed by the accused for Tuti to practise her English due to her poor command of the language.

"The books hit Tuti's left thigh, causing her to feel pain."

The next day, Toh called for Ms Tri and became unhappy when the maid, who was then cleaning a toilet, failed to respond.

Toh threw an empty red pail at the younger woman and it struck her right cheek.

Ms Tri later told another Indonesian maid about her ordeal while disposing of some rubbish at the void deck.

The 33-year-old woman alerted the Centre for Domestic Employees and a staff member from the non-governmental organisation met up with Ms Tri at the void deck on March 26 last year.

Ms Tri lodged a police report later that day and was taken to Changi General Hospital, where she was found with bruises on her face and left thigh.

Toh, who was unrepresented, burst into tears as she pleaded for leniency.

For assaulting the maid, she could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.

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