Maid abuser gets longer jail term after prosecution's appeal

Tay Wee Kiat had his jail term for assaulting his Myanmar maid raised from 24 months to 30 months yesterday. He and his wife, Chia Yun Ling (right), were jailed in March for abusing the Myanmar national. The couple had previously been convicted and s
Tay Wee Kiat had his jail term for assaulting his Myanmar maid raised from 24 months to 30 months yesterday. He and his wife, Chia Yun Ling (right), were jailed in March for abusing the Myanmar national. The couple had previously been convicted and sentenced in 2017 for abusing their Indonesian maid. ST FILE PHOTOS

Court also reverses acquittal of his wife over failure to pay Myanmar maid's salary

A former regional IT manager yesterday had his jail term for assaulting his Myanmar maid - the second domestic worker he was convicted of abusing - raised from 24 months to 30 months by the High Court.

The increase came after the prosecution appealed against the sentence imposed by a district judge in March on Tay Wee Kiat, 41, for abusing Ms Moe Moe Than.

He had kicked her while she was in a push-up position and had instructed her and the other domestic worker to slap each other, before making both maids worship in front of a Buddhist altar at home, even though one is a Christian and the other is a Muslim.

Justice Hoo Sheau Peng agreed with the prosecutors that Tay's initial sentence did not adequately capture his criminality.

"Tay's ill treatment of the victim took place over 11 months. He used implements such as a cane, a broomstick and a metal clothing hook. He caused both physical as well as psychological harm. He also humiliated and demeaned the victim," said the judge.

Justice Hoo also allowed the prosecution's appeal to reverse the acquittal of Tay's wife - former senior sales manager Chia Yun Ling, 34 - for failing to pay Ms Moe Moe Than's salary amounting to $1,450.

 
 
 

Chia was given three months' jail on this charge, which was ordered to run concurrently with her current jail term of 47 months for abusing the Myanmar national.

Justice Hoo said Chia's account - that she had paid the maid the outstanding salary a day before her repatriation - was "unbelievable".

Besides inflicting physical abuse, Chia had force-fed the maid a mixture of rice and sugar through a funnel. When the maid threw up, Chia made her eat her own vomit.

Chia has been ordered to pay compensation totalling $9,850 to the two maids, while Tay has been ordered to pay $8,900.

Tay told the court yesterday that they are not paying and will serve the default jail terms instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said the prosecution still has the option to seize the couple's assets if compensation is not paid.

Tay also asked the court to help facilitate monthly "tele-visits" between him and his wife. The couple started serving their jail terms for abusing Ms Moe Moe Than on March 27 this year.

Justice Hoo asked the prosecution to check on the request for tele-visits, but noted that it was ultimately up to the prison authorities to make the decision.

The couple were first convicted and sentenced in 2017 for abusing their Indonesian maid, Fitriyah, 34.

In March last year, following an appeal by the prosecution, Tay's jail term for this set of charges was increased from 28 months to 43 months. Chia's jail term remained at two months.

Tay had forced Ms Fitriyah - who goes by one name - to stand on one leg on a stool while holding another stool above her head, with a bottle shoved into her mouth.

He had also instructed the two maids to slap each other 10 times, and forced them to bow and get up in front of the altar 100 times.

 
 

Chia was found guilty of slapping and punching Ms Fitriyah.

The sentences imposed on the first set of charges relating to Ms Fitriyah had been stayed, pending the conclusion of the proceedings relating to Ms Moe Moe Than.

With the conclusion of the second case yesterday, the court will have to decide on the appropriate date to start the couple's sentences for the first set of charges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'Maid abuser gets longer jail term after prosecution's appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe