Administration manager jailed six weeks for maid abuse

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 her, administration manager Toh Ah Hoon subjected the Indonesian maid to physical abuse for seemingly trivial reasons.

Toh, 53, was yesterday sentenced to six weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of assault.

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 last year.

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 was unhappy with the way Ms Tri used cling-wrap for fish and decided to do it herself. While grabbing the cling-wrap box, the Singaporean cut her index finger which began to bleed profusely.

As Ms Tri was cleaning the blood off the floor, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said, "the accused then punched (the maid) 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.

Ten days later, Ms Tri was in the kitchen when Toh threw three books at her because the maid had not recorded the accused's instructions in English.

The next day, Toh called for Ms Tri and was unhappy when the maid, who was then cleaning a toilet, failed to respond. Toh threw an empty red pail at the maid and it struck her right cheek.

 

Ms Tri later told another Indonesian maid about her ordeal while disposing some rubbish at the void deck. The other maid then alerted the Centre for Domestic Employees and a staff member from the non-government organisation met 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Administration manager jailed six weeks for maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe