Couple claim trial after being accused of abusing maid

Linda Seah Lei Sie and her husband Lim Toon Leng are accused of abusing their maid.
Linda Seah Lei Sie and her husband Lim Toon Leng are accused of abusing their maid.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A woman and her husband have claimed trial after allegedly subjecting their maid to a range of abuse including physical assault and being forced to pour scalding hot water on her own shoulder on two occasions.

It was  alleged that the maid’s employer, Linda Seah Lei Sie, 38, caused the maid to drink water mixed with floor cleaner and made the maid knock her own head on the floor.

She is also accused of pulling the maid’s hair and shaking her until “quite a lot” of hair fell out and 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 Myanmar national Phyu Phyu Mar multiple times.

She faces six charges in all, the court heard on Monday (Jan 8) , the first day of the trial.

Seah’s husband Lim Toon Leng, 43, who is a director and shareholder at the salon, faces one assault charge. He is accused of punching the maid’s 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 brought Ms Phyu Phyu Mar to their workplace in February 2016. The maid performed jobs like 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 onto her and made her pour hot water onto herself.”

Ms Lee alerted the police later that evening, the court heard. Seah is represented by lawyer Kasturibai Manickam while 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’s why I lodged a police report...I believe the police will carry out a thorough investigation,” said Ms Lee.

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