Jail for couple who abused maid

Linda Seah Lei Sie and Lim Toon Leng abused their maid between August and October 2016
Linda Seah Lei Sie and Lim Toon Leng abused their maid between August and October 2016. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A beauty salon manager tormented her maid for months, forcing her to perform multiple acts of self-harm, including pouring hot water on herself and drinking dirty water mixed with detergent.

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 39, was sentenced to three years' jail yesterday after District Judge Olivia Low found her guilty of abusing Ms Phyu Phyu Mar following a 15-day trial.

The manager of Anew Me Beauty Aesthetic salon at The Centrepoint shopping mall in Orchard Road was also ordered to pay $11,800 in compensation to the maid.

Judge Low said: "Linda's unhappiness with the victim's work should not justify any form of violence against the victim... Up till now, she still has a scar on her left shoulder and she would have to always wear a jacket to cover it up."

The judge had on Jan 18 found Seah guilty of five assault charges and one count of causing the maid to drink the tainted water.

Seah's husband, interior designer Lim Toon Leng, 44, was sentenced to six weeks' jail after he was convicted of an assault charge. He was ordered to pay $500 compensation.

The Singaporean couple, who have a five-year-old daughter, committed the offences in their Punggol Walk flat between August and October 2016.

NO JUSTIFICATION FOR VIOLENCE

Linda's unhappiness with the victim's work should not justify any form of violence against the victim... Up till now, she still has a scar on her left shoulder and she would have to always wear a jacket to cover it up.

DISTRICT JUDGE OLIVIA LOW

  • 3 years

    Beauty salon manager Linda Seah Lei Sie's jail sentence. She was also ordered to pay $11,800 in compensation to her former maid.

    6 weeks

    Interior designer Lim Toon Leng's jail sentence. He must also pay his former maid $500 in compensation.

The court heard that Ms Phyu Phyu Mar did not receive her monthly salary of $700 throughout her employment with her abusers. Her weight also plummeted from 50kg to 38kg because of a lack of food.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Sarah Shi and Jotham Tay said in their submissions that Seah employed Ms Phyu Phyu Mar from February to October 2016.

The DPPs added that the maid received her full salary only in November that year when the Ministry of Manpower intervened.

The maid testified during the trial that Seah made her pour hot water on herself on two occasions - in August and September 2016 - because Seah was unhappy with her.

The maid suffered scald marks and blisters on her skin when she complied.

Instead of taking her to a doctor, Seah gave her a needle and told her to puncture the blisters herself.

 
 

Besides these incidents, Seah also ordered the maid to drink tainted water, made her hit her head against the floor, grabbed the Myanmar national's hair and used a mobile phone to repeatedly hit her.

On Oct 13, 2016, Lim punched Ms Phyu Phyu Mar's forehead twice after he wrongly assumed that she had thrown away his spectacles.

The court heard that the domestic worker used to accompany Seah to her salon a few times a week. It was one of the salon's employees who alerted the police to the maid's plight.

Seah intends to appeal against her conviction, sentence and compensation. Her bail has been set at $15,000. Lim will be appealing against conviction and sentence. His bail is $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2019, with the headline 'Jail for couple who abused maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe